Category Archives: IED

UNDERSERVED: Marines are nearly ten times more likely to be excluded from VA services than their counterparts in the Air Force

“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.” – Merriam Webster

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By far more than anyone else, United States Marines and their supporters have reacted to and commented on this solemn, snow-shrouded image that I posted on Facebook mere hours ago. It’s an anecdotal truth for this author that those in and around the USMC are quick, respectful, and openly compassionate when it comes to honoring the noble dead. Collectively, the kind of fight that our Marines take to America’s enemies is a lot different than that we ask of our airmen. So, WTF? The VA has effectively decided that Marines are more than five times more “Dishonorable” than Airmen.

Here’s an excerpt from the following March 2016 report as accessed online 21 December 2018:
Swords to Plowshares, in conjunction with National Veterans Legal Services Program and the Veterans Legal Clinic at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School have published Underserved: How the VA Wrongfully Excludes Veterans with Bad Paper.

Complete report available at:

https://www.swords-to-plowshares.org/2016/03/30/underserved/

Not all who have served are “veterans” in the eyes of the Department of Veterans Affairs. If the veteran has less than a General discharge, the VA creates obstacles to getting health care, benefits, homeless resources and other services. Most of these veterans are simply turned away. Congress never meant for eligibility to be so exclusive, it intended that only veterans who served dishonorably be denied access. The VA’s own discretionary policies unnecessarily deny hundreds of thousands veterans benefits, who are often those most in need of the VA’s support. These former service members are more likely to have mental health disabilities and twice as likely to commit suicide. They are more likely to be homeless and to be involved with the criminal justice system.

KEY FINDINGS FROM THE REPORT

  • Marines are nearly ten times more likely to be excluded from VA services than their counterparts in the Air Force
  • Current era service members are excluded at higher rates than other eras– more than twice the rate for Vietnam Era veterans and nearly four times the rate for World War II Era veterans
  • Mental health and combat have little effect on eligibility
  • 3 out of 4 veterans with bad-paper discharges who served in combat and who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are denied eligibility by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals

.  .  .

(Excerpted from p. 12 and following)

VA Regulations Result in Unequal Exclusion Rates Between Branches

The historically unprecedented exclusion rate today
is due almost enti rely to the VA’s discretionary choice
to presume ineligibility for veterans who received
administrative Other Than Honorable discharges.
That choice deprives tens of thousands of veterans of
needed care, despite the fact that their service would
not be considered “Dishonorable”—and was not
deemed Dishonorable by the military. What is more, significant disparities exist among the administrative separati on practices of the various service branches. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps each has its own separation regulations and policies. Moreover, within each branch, different units and commands may implement those regulations and policies in a different manner. Thus, service members who engage in similar misconduct may receive disparate treatment: one may be retained, another may be discharged under General conditions, another discharged under Other Than Honorable conditions.

This is due to different leadership styles, not differences in degrees of “dishonor.” A report of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on discharge characterization documented the range of discharge practices and ascribed disparities to differences in leadership and management styles rather than a measurable difference in “honor” or “character.” The GAO compared Marines and Airmen with the same misconduct, service length, and performance history, and found that the Air Force was thirteen times more likely to give a discharge Under Honorable conditions than the Marine Corps.

Because the VA presumptively excludes veterans
with non-punitive Other Than Honorable discharges,
this discrepancy results in significant differences
in VA eligibility. For service members with equivalent conduct histories, Airmen are 13 times more
likely than Marines to be deemed presumptively
eligible—and recognized as a “veteran”—by the VA.
This results in significant differences in aggregate.
Whereas 98% of veterans who have served in the Air
Force since 2001 can access the VA when they leave
the service, only 88% of Marines from the period are
presumptively recognized as “veterans” by the VA.
(See Table K.9). The VA has effectively decided that
Marines are more than five times more “Dishonorable” than Airmen.

This disparity provides a potent reminder for why Congress decided to exclude only veterans who received or should have received a Dishonorable discharge by Court-Martial. Although there are wide discrepancies among services in their administrative discharge practices, the service branches are remarkably similar in how they use punitive discharges. Congress specifically noted that the discretion given to commanders for administrative separations can result in unfair outcomes, and gave veterans the benefit of the doubt by only excluding those who received or deserved a Dishonorable discharge by court-martial. Because the VA’s regulations have presumptively excluded all veterans with administrative Other Than Honorable discharges, the VA is failing to act in accordance with Congress’s decision.
Eligibility Decisions Fail To Adequately Consider Mental Health Conditions that May Have Contributed to Discharge.

Overall, the VA’s COD regulations prevent consideration—except in narrow and specifi c circumstances—of facts that Congress intended the VA to take into account: mitigating factors, extenuating circum-
stances, and positive facts. As one example, the VA’s regulations provide little room for consideration
of whether any mental health condition explains
or mitigates the conduct that led to the veteran’s
bad-paper discharge. It is deeply unfair—and contrary to Congress’s intent—to exclude veterans from basic veteran services for behavior that is symptomatic of mental health conditions that may be related to their service.

It is well established that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), depression, operational stress, and other mental health conditions can lead to behavioral changes. In some cases, military commanders incorrectly attribute those behaviors to bad character, rather than as signs of distress and disease. Indeed, a 2010 study of Marines who deployed to Iraq found that those who were diagnosed with PTSD were eleven times more likely to be discharged for misconduct and eight times more likely to be discharged for substance abuse than Marines without a PTSD diagnosis.

Yet, the VA’s regulati ons contain only one narrow
provision related to mental health: misconduct
leading to discharge may be overlooked if the veteran
was “insane” at the time of the misconduct leading
to discharge. The VA’s definition of “insanity” is
antiquated—out of step with the practices of modern
psychology and psychiatry, which no longer deem
people “insane.” . . .

Eligibility Decisions Do Not Consider Whether the Veteran Served In Combat or Other Hardship Conditions

Another example of the failure of the VA’s regulations is the absence of any generally applicable provision for considering whether the veteran served in hardship conditions, including whether the veteran served in combat. . . .

https://www.swords-to-plowshares.org/2016/03/30/underserved/

Among additional expert analyses of what bad paper discharges do to those who’ve served and their families is:

“Bad Papers”: The Invisible and Increasing Costs of War for Excluded Veterans

Ali R. Tayyeb and Jennifer Greenburg (2017)
Paper (pdf)
https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/papers/2017/bad-papers-invisible-and-increasing-costs-war-excluded-veterans

In a forthcoming article, this author points to another problem facing those with bad paper discharges:

“Veterans with bad paper discharges can get screwed all the way around. Not only are they often – but not always – excluded from VA services and healthcare, they “may be excluded from access to community resources also; many community programs follow the eligibility requirements set by the VA.”
Research Review: Underserved, How the VA Wrongfully Excludes Veterans With Bad Paper. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) iava.org/blog May 3, 2016
https://iava.org/blogs/research-review-underserved-how-the-va-wrongfully-excludes￾veterans-with-bad-paper/

BAD PAPER UPDATE

Veterans may sue over discharges they say were result of untreated mental health problems

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/veterans_may_sue_over_discharges_they_say_were_result_of_untreated_mental_h

48,000* paths to homelessness?

The Heritage Foundation’s John Malcolm recently testified that there are more than 48,000 state and federal “collateral consequences” in the United States. These “hidden costs” of criminal convictions ar exactly what I was talking about when I wrote this on STRIFEBLOG in August:
.
.
“You do the best you can, though, because you swore you would and because the outcome of a criminal case – regardless of whether a client goes to prison – frequently inflicts significant consequences on the lives and fortunes of not just your client but also your client’s family. A criminal conviction, the criminal record that follows it, and any collateral consequences from the conviction, e.g., loss of professional license, reduction in amount of VA disability compensation, termination of VA pension payments, deportation, denial of access to public housing and federal student aid, etc., can hurt and even destroy families.”

 

Collateral Consequences: Protecting Public Safety or Encouraging Recidivism

“Since most ex-offenders—millions of them—at some point will be released from custody and return to our communities, it is important that we do everything we can to encourage them to become productive, law-abiding members of society and that we not put too many impediments, in the form of excessive collateral consequences, in their way that will hinder their efforts.

“More attention must be paid to this issue to avoid these dangerous and counterproductive results. In a time of intense polarization, this is one of the few issues people can rally around and find common ground. If people are pushed into the corner and denied opportunities for gainful employment and a stable environment for too long, they will have little choice but to recidivate. It is not in anybody’s best interest to relegate the formally incarcerated to a backwater of second-class citizenship status.”

John Malcolm. Vice President, Institute for Constitutional Government, Heritage Foundation.

https://www.heritage.org/testimony/collateral-consequences-protecting-public-safety-or-encouraging-recidivism-0

*TITLE OF POST includes “48,000” in an effort to keep the message clear. Far too many of those 48,000 can shatter a family and thrust moms and dads and kids into homelessness but certainly not all of them.

2018 ARMY-NAVY game: “This game is the only game, where everyone on the field playing, is willing to sacrifice everything, put their life on the line, and die for everyone watching.”

“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.”  – Merriam Webster

Feature image: West Point’s uniforms for last Saturday’s 2018 Army-Navy football game were a tribute to the “Big RedOne,” the Army’s First Division, which helped turn the tide during World War I. Image courtesy U.S. Military Academy. Image and article accessed at businessinsider.com 10 December 2018.

 

The Army and the Navy are the best of friends in the world 364-1/2 days a year, but on one Saturday afternoon, we’re the worst of enemies.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Army_Navy_Game_1942_play at USNA image accompanies 2018 American Heritage article by Sally Mott Freeman. cropped. 455 x 275

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 1942 Army-Navy game was played in Annapolis rather than Philadelphia due to the travel restrictions. Third- and Fourth-year Navy midshipmen were ordered to sit behind the Army bench and cheer for the opposing team in place of West Point cadets who couldn’t attend. Nimitz Library Digital CollectionsSally Mott Freeman. The Strangest Army-Navy Game Ever Played? 63(1) American Heritage (2018). Accessed online 10 December 2018.  https://americannotice.home.blog/2018/07/08/the-strangest-army-navy-game-ever-played-by-sally-mott-freeman/

 

Memorials to West Point grads KIA Cullum Hall at US Military Academy. 434 x 275

Memorial plaques to West Point graduates killed in action. Cullum Hall, U.S. Military Academy

 

“There’s always something special when the service academies play each other that’s not in any other game. This is not a regular game and everyone involved knows it.”

Roger Staubach, Heisman Trophy Winner, Navy quarterback, Vietnam veteran, and Dallas Cowboy

 

 

The title of this blogpost comes from a new essay by Gavin Jernigan, [who] “was a member of the Navy Football team from 2012-2016. He graduated from Annapolis in 2016 and commissioned as a Marine Corps Aviator.” The following excerpt is from his essay, “Army-Navy Football: What the game means to America”:

Donald Preston Tillar III KIA, plaque at West Point memorializes his service, Image accompanies Greg Bruno. War_s Grim Reality Hits West Point. Times Herald-Record. 197 x 275The players of both sides of the ball demonstrate a quality that is slowly slipping as a primary characteristic of our country: sacrifice. Every single Midshipmen or Cadet playing in the game could have played football at another college and had even the slightest chance to play in the NFL. With incredible academic requirements to be accepted to and graduate from a service academy like West Point or Annapolis, any of these players could have earned academic scholarships at other schools and found a great job outside of the military after college. Instead, their 17-year old self made the biggest decision of their life to attend a service academy and serve their country.

These young men forego the stereotypical college life in order to study hard, learn their profession, and prepare themselves to lead young men and women in the military. All this is done for love of country.

Following graduation, the Cadets of Army West Point will commission as Second Lieutenants in the United States Army. For the Midshipmen of the Naval Academy, they will either commission as Second Lieutenants in the United States Marine Corps or as Ensigns in the United States Navy. Both service requirements last a minimum of five years.

During these five years, many of them will be sent to every corner of the world, away from their friends and family, to spread peace on behalf of American diplomacy. Today they play a football game in front of millions. Tomorrow, they stand in front of citizens of countries around the globe representing the United States of America.

https://www.againstallenemies.com/2018/12/7/18130113/army-navy-football-what-the-game-means-to-america-black-knights-midshipmen-niumatalolo-monken

The author, Gavin Jernigan, was a member of the Navy Football team from 2012-2016. He graduated from Annapolis in 2016 and commissioned as a Marine Corps Aviator.

 

USNA. Virtual Memorial Hall operated by Run to Honor. accesseed as npg.si.edu on 10 December 2018. 233 x 300The USNA Virtual Memorial Hall exists to perpetuate the memory of alumni of the United States Naval Academy who have died in service to their country. As President Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which

 

 

Following is excerpted from the Capt. Elizabeth Kealey’s obituary at the U.S. Naval Academy Virtual Memorial Hall (Even though Capt. Kealey did not play in any of the Army Navy games during her tenure at Annapolis, she’s featured here because what Gavin Jernigan – a fellow Marine aviator – writes applies to men as well as women who attend the U.S. military service academies).

2005_Kealey_LB. USNA image. 222 x 300When Marine Capt. Elizabeth Kealey returned from a deployment during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, she showed her mom, Chris Kealey-Thompson, photographs of her helicopter covered in bullet holes.

“She was like, ’No big deal, Mom,’” said Ms. Kealey-Thompson of Salisbury, N.C.

That probably really was no big deal for a young woman who wanted to pursue only the toughest challenges life could toss her way. The mentality that drove her decisions, according to her mom, was, “I’m going to go into the Marines because that’s the hardest branch of the military, and I’m going to fly helicopters because that’s the hardest thing to do.”

Capt. Kealey, 32, originally of Indiana, Pa., died Friday in California from injuries sustained in a helicopter crash while conducting routine flight operations at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center.

She anticipated resigning her commission after 10 years in the military in the summer, after which she wanted to go to graduate school and become a physics teacher.

The nonchalant attitude regarding her heroic actions came from her late father, Walter, who finished his military career as an Army colonel and then worked as a liaison officer for the U.S. Military Academy. Ms. Kealey-Thompson said the pair agreed that as a member of the armed forces, “You do your job, you do it well, and you don’t brag about it.”

https://usnamemorialhall.org/index.php/ELIZABETH_KEALEY,_MAJ,_USMC

 

1997_McGreevy_LB. USNA virtual memorial hall 212 x 275

 

 

Lieutenant Michael M. McGreevy graduated from the Naval Academy and went on to become members of the SEALs, one of the elite fighting forces in the world.

Lieutenant McGreevy, who was the Naval Academy class of 1997’s secretary, not only was popular, but also displayed scholarly aptitude, friends said. While in high school in Portville, New York, Lieutenant McGreevy wanted to take state Regents exam in German – only his school didn’t offer the language. He bought German books and taught himself so well, he passed the exam.

Gary Swetland, Lieutenant McGreevy’s former high school track coach, recalled the young man as one of the most determined people he ever met. He said Lieutenant McGreevy would run more than 3 miles to school each morning, to be there by 6 a.m. so that he could get in a session of strength building before classes started.

“He grew from a thin-as-a-rail, somewhat awkward teen, to an absolute physical stud of a man,” said Mr. Swetland, who kept in touch with McGreevy and attended his graduation from the Naval Academy. “You felt compelled to stand and salute” when he entered a room, Mr. Swetland said.

Military friends of McGreevy described him as the embodiment of American ideals. “Hold him up as high as you can – he was a great American and a great person,” said Marine Captain Aaron Shelley of San Diego, California, McGreevy’s friend and freshman year roommate at the academy. “He did well in everything I saw him do – at the same time, he was very, very humble about it and was always ready to help others.”

McGreevy finished first in his SEAL class.

He had been in Afghanistan since early April and is survived by his wife, Laura, and 14-month-old daughter, Molly, his mother Patricia Mackin and father Michael McGreevy Sr.

“He died doing what he always wanted to do,” said former Marine Captain. Thomas Wagner, McGreevy’s classmate at the academy and the president of the Class of 1997.

https://usnamemorialhall.org/index.php/MICHAEL_M._MCGREEVY,_JR.,_LT,_USN

mmmcgreevy-gravesite-photo-february-2006. 275 x 206

Killed in the same combat operation with Lt. McGreevy were the following soldiers and sailors:

Staff Sergeant Shamus O. Goare, 29, of Danville, Ohio. 
Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature, 35, of Clarks Grove, Minnesota. 
Sergeant Kip A. Jacoby, 21, of Pompano Beach, Florida 
Sergeant First Class Marcus V. Muralles, 33, of Shelbyville, Indiana 
Master Sergeant James W. Ponder III, 36, of Franklin, Tennessee 
Major Stephen C. Reich, 34, of Washington Depot, Connecticut 
Sergeant First Class Michael L. Russell, 31, of Stafford, Virginia 
Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach, 40, of Jacksonville, Florida. 
All of these soldiers were assigned to the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Hunter Army Air Field, Georgia

Sailors killed were:

Chief Petty Officer Jacques J. Fontan, 36, of New Orleans, Louisiana 
Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, New Hampshire 
Lieutenant Commander Erik S. Kristensen, 33, of San Diego, California 
Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffery A. Lucas, 33, of Corbett, Oregon 
Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Florida. 
Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric S. Patton, 22, of Boulder City, Nevada 
Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey S. Taylor, 30, of Midway, West Virginia

A Department of Defense press release explains that “[a]ll 16 were killed while conducting combat operations when the MH-47 helicopter that they were aboard crashed in the vicinity of Asadabad, Afghanistan in Kumar Province on June 28, 2005.”

http://arlingtoncemetery.net/mmmcgreevyjr.htm

 

U. S. Naval Academy Virtual Memorial Hall:

https://usnamemorialhall.org/index.php/USNA_Virtual_Memorial_Hall

“The USNA Virtual Memorial Hall exists to perpetuate the memory of
alumni of the United States Naval Academy who have died in service to
their country. As President Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address,
“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the
unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly
advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task
remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased
devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of
devotion.”

 

Feature image accompanies article by Greg Bruno: War’s Grim Reality Hits West Point. Times Herald-Record recordonline.com 7 January 2007 

https://www.recordonline.com/article/20070107/NEWS/701070346

 

 

charles-photo-lawlibrary-150-x-200Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked author to share with those best able to keep the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that.  http://www.strifeblog.org/2018/08/02/henry-a-wounded-soldier-forgotten-by-all-in-an-american-jail-by-all-except-his-brothers-who-fell-beside-him-in-vietnam

“On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation . . .”

“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.”  – Merriam Webster

 

After years of interrogating and defending witnesses in the criminal courts, detecting patterns and pattern breaks in people’s oral and written speech and in their behaviors is instinctive.
But it’s also instinct to identify other types of patterns. So, while at the Southern Arizona Veterans Cemetery last month, I took time to consider some of the patterns that are visible among the granite niche plates of the veterans who share a columbarium with my dad:
  • Too many of the niche plates are hard to read from just ten feet away;
  • The types of diversity among the names suggests that the ethnic, historical, and linguistic heritage among the veterans who share the columbarium with dad is broad, a reminder that those who fight America’s wars come from far and near;
  • These niche plates and others adjacent to them reveal a near, if not total, absence of any identifier that would draw distinctions among veterans based on race;
  • That the decedent be personally identified with, or perhaps insured by, religion or spirituality appears to be, at the very least, important to the good folks he or she came from;
  • As would be expected, most of these men and women who’ve died in the last few years served this nation’s military as enlisted personnel, rather than as officers;
  • Among these niche plates and others adjacent to them, there is a near, if not total, absence of any markings by which one might distinguish among combat warriors and other military veterans based on whether that veteran was gay, straight, or otherwise;
  • Many of the service men and women on these and other columbaria would have experienced the existential threats that this Nation faced during World War II, while they were still children; others came of age and perhaps served, when the U.S. and its allies fought the Communist scourge on and around the Korean Peninsula and around and above an island just 90 miles from the continental U.S.; during more than ten years of the Vietnam War and in the decades that followed, most, if not all of these veterans time and again saw those who mattered to them most die in whole or in part, regardless of which political party held power in Washington; and like every other person on the planet, each of them woke every day with a promise from the nuclear age: mutually assured destruction if any of us screws up; and
  • Among those niche plates that contain additional remarks in the space below the veteran’s official lifespan, almost all forego terms like “hero” and “warrior” in favor of terms that speak to the human connection that those left behind feel and will continue to feel for the veteran they’ve lost.

 

 

 

charles-photo-lawlibrary-150-x-200Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked author to share with those best able to keep the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that.  http://www.strifeblog.org/2018/08/02/henry-a-wounded-soldier-forgotten-by-all-in-an-american-jail-by-all-except-his-brothers-who-fell-beside-him-in-vietnam

My husband lost a limb in Afghanistan. Now, as his caregiver, I’m on the front lines.

Today’s opinion column by wounded warrior caregiver and USA Today contributor Ms. Sarah Verardo yanks the cover away from a national tragedy that the Trump Administration is working to fix.

The focus of her essay is those veterans – and their caregivers – who are deemed eligible for VA benefits. It does not extend to the tens of thousands of veterans who’ve been deemed ineligible for VA services due to “bad paper” discharges.

Although by law, Congress denies veterans’ services only to those “discharged under dishonorable conditions,” the VA has interpreted the intent of the law as excluding anyone with Dishonorable discharges as well as all veterans with Bad Conduct or OTH discharges, regardless of whether or not these latter discharges were related to any action understood as ‘dishonorable.’”

Ali R. Tayyeb and Jennifer Greenburg. “Bad Papers”: The Invisible and Increasing Costs of War for Excluded Veterans 6. Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, Brown University. 20 June 2017 (citations omitted).

The following is excerpted from Ms. Verardo’s opinion piece in USA Today:

“Eight years ago, my husband stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. He lost his left leg and much of his left arm, and barely survived. . . .

“As many as 5.5 million caregivers struggle to care for disabled veterans like my husband. These wounded warriors, especially catastrophically disabled, need round-the-clock assistance because they have a hard time completing the tasks associated with daily living — such as going to the bathroom or getting out of bed.

“In our case, my husband needs assistance to complete all his daily tasks, from dressing, to getting cleaned and ready, to planning the day. Every day, I am constantly thinking for two people.

Catastrophically wounded vets also require lots of medical care. In addition to his surgeries [119 of them], my husband has gone through years of speech, visual, physical and occupational therapy.

. . .

“The Department of Veterans Affairs offers caregivers support for coordinating these services as well as a stipend.

“Caregivers could receive $7,800 to $30,000 in any given year. To calculate caregiver stipends, the VA looks at a typical home health aide’s hourly wage in a veteran’s geographic location, as well as the number of hours of care that veteran needs. The VA caps the hours of care at 40 per week.

“That’s almost insulting. I am a caregiver every second of every day. One-fifth of caregivers report caring for their veterans 80 hours a week.

. . .
Fortunately, federal officials are beginning to take action. As part of the recently passed VA MISSION Act, Congress will expand caregiver support to all veterans — not just those injured after 9/11.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2018/12/05/veteran-caregivers-affairs-war-disability-afghanistan-va-column/2154728002/

 

FEATURE IMAGE accompanies this 5 December 2018 featured op-ed in USA Today. Caption: “Mike and Sarah Verardo in Charlotte, North Carolina, in November 2018.”

Don’t abandon our female veterans to staggering risk of suicide, urge an American Soldier and a U.S. Marine

“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.”  – Merriam Webster

 

allcallsigns.org graphic 263 x 182 accessed google images 4 September 2018A QUICK WORD FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE POND RE INFORMATION THAT FOLLOWS THIS POST: “We’re shit at talking. It’s time to change that. All Call Signs is a peer-to-peer communication app for Veterans and serving Military Personnel. Our chat service is manned by volunteers who have served in The Forces and understand the stresses and struggles that come with daily life in and out of uniform. “

 

“Don’t abandon our female veterans to staggering risk of suicide.”

[Please note: since this opinion piece came out last year, the VA has clarified that its reported veteran suicide data include, and have included, active-duty, guard, and reserve in addition to separated veterans (June 2018).]

The following is an excerpt from a 27 September 2017 opinion piece by a couple of veterans who know what they’re talking about:

Paula Broadwell is the director of the Think Broader Foundation, a co-host of On Point Women Warrior Writing Workshops, and an Army veteran.

Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas is an assistant professor of Public Health at Charleston Southern University and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran

. . .

“Of the 40,000 veteran organizations offering services, a minute number have proposed these programs and even fewer have offered funding for existing initiatives. Even the big national non-profits that are focused on veteran support initiatives have a dearth of programs that are exclusive to women. Corporations who might support these programs seem unmoved by the statistics. We’ve been told frequently and verbatim by corporate funding entities that “they have sponsored their woman’s event for the year.”  Checking the box isn’t going to save female veterans lives any more than simply tweeting about the problem does.

“Improving access to women-specific programming matters for many reasons, not in the least because opening up in group therapy sessions with men who may have dismissed women’s service or even been perpetrators of harassment or assault can be difficult if not impossible, so many women opt out of co-ed programming and therapy altogether.”

“Earlier this year, Paula co-hosted with fellow service women a “women warriors writing workshop” in Tampa, Fla. The published mission was to provide skills training to aspiring female veteran historians, memoirists, novelists, and op-ed writers. Our implied mission, however, was to help create small tribe and provide mental health support for our sisters in need.

“Besides learning of their valor, adventures and inevitable mishaps along the way, several common issues surfaced in our discussions:

  1. Most women said they had never been a room with all female veterans in the past.
  2. Many women, including one of the authors of this column, had experienced depression or suicide ideation following some trauma in life but had avoided seeking VA help.
  3. All of them were eager for support and connectivity but many were challenged to find it in their civilian lives.
  4. Many of us feel our voices don’t matter; just look at the Army Chief of Staff’s recent recommended reading list (one of 115 authors is a woman, despite the plethora of excellent literature by female academics and historians.)”

[end of excerpt]

http://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/352728-dont-abandon-americas-female-veterans-to-staggering-risk-of-suicide#

These experts urge:

And to our sisters in arms, please reach out if you need help.

“If you or someone you know is at immediate risk for suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat.”

https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/military-crisis-line

https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/education/signs-of-crisis

 

union-jack-with-royal-crest-250 x 147A new military chat service has been launched by two veterans who say “we’re sh*t at talking and it’s killing us.”

 

 

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The following is taken verbatim from online content to accompany a 4 September 2018 broadcast on Forces Network BFBS Radio (this image accompanies the story.)

https://www.forces.net/radio/all-call-signs-veterans-fighting-your-mental-health

A new military chat service has been launched by two veterans who say “we’re sh*t at talking and it’s killing us.”

The former soldiers’ battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) inspired them to set up a new peer to peer chat support network to help those struggling with mental health.

All Call Signs co-founders Steven James and Dan Arnold both served with The Second Battalion, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and created All Call Signs amid concerns over high waiting times for mental health services and a growing number of veteran suicides.

In the audio clip below Forces Radio BFBS Aldershot’s Natasha Reneaux caught up with the friends and first spoke to Steven to find out about the tri-service support network.
“We’ve got 60 plus users at the moment who are all ex-military, have all been in the same shoes as the people that are calling in.

“They understand the language; they’ve been in the same places so they get it.”

The ethos and mission statement of All Call Signs is “camaraderie in the face of adversity, whether in uniform or out.”

All Call Signs isn’t like a call centre. When someone clicks the Chat Now button you’re automatically connected to a volunteer via WhatsApp.

The volunteers have all served so understand what life is really like in the military.
“Once you’ve made that connection, you’ve got someone to chat to whenever you just need a pick me up…

“You can check up on each other and make sure you’re doing OK.”

However, this isn’t just a text service. The initial contact via WhatsApp can develop into a phone or video call, whatever the user feels most comfortable with.

It’s not just a service you can find on WhatsApp.

All Call Signs launched their Beacon, an AI-powered geo-location search assistance app in September which is already being embraced and used by the military community they are here to help.

The aim is for people to subscribe to Beacon on Facebook Messenger so that if a vulnerable member of the military community goes missing they will be sent an alert.
“Getting boots on the ground in response to an at risk person going off the radar can literally mean the difference between life and death.

“Our hope is that Beacon will prevent a lot of the misinformation and confusion that has hindered search efforts in the past.”

All Call Signs is designed to complement and not replace what’s already available for veterans.

Dan and Steve were increasingly becoming aware of suicides within the veteran community and felt like something more needed to be done to support the vulnerable members of their military family.

“There’s fantastic support out there with agencies like Combat Stress, The Royal British Legion and Hague Housing.

If you want to volunteer your time or are interested in looking after your mental health visit http://www.allcallsigns.org

https://allcallsigns.org/

 

 

ckb face indian screen image indirect 150 x 221Charles Bloeser is the creator of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative that will continue to contribute to bridging the gap in experience, knowledge, and understanding that divides those who’ve never served under arms from those who have. He’s the civilian son and grandson of veterans and a lawyer who’s spent most years arguing criminal and constitutional issues in America’s state and federal trial and appellate courts. His most recent publication chronicles a tragic story that a former client asked him to tell, from his deathbed:   

http://www.strifeblog.org/2018/08/02/henry-a-wounded-soldier-forgotten-by-all-in-an-american-jail-by-all-except-his-brothers-who-fell-beside-him-in-vietnam

 

Journeyman Pictures’ Battlefield ER: The brutal life of a warzone medic

“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.”  – Merriam Webster

 

 

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U.S. troops carry a wounded Afghan National Army soldier to a U.S. Army MEDEVAC helicopter in Qandahar, Afghanistan. (PHOTO CREDIT: Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)

“In the heart of Taliban territory, a talented and youthful team of medics race against the clock to save a constant stream of casualties, bracing themselves for the bloody consequences of the imminent ‘surge’.

“Welcome to M*A*S*H 2010, where a brave medical team are on 24 hour alert. “We’re the busiest Forward Surgical Team in Iraq and Afghanistan”. In the next moment, the alarm sounds and the medivac helicopter is taking off. “Is it a US…an Afghan…a child?”, asks the pilot, as a giant smoke cloud from an exploded mine-resistant vehicle comes into view. Two American soldiers have been killed and three wounded by an IED. All are loaded onto the helicopters and the golden hour in which they can be saved, begins…”We provide 21st century intensive care”, shouts Major Bryan over the blood-urdling screams of the injured. . . .”

The Golden Hour / Battlefield ER: The brutal life of a warzone medic. ABC Australia. (Journeyman Pictures.  December 16, 2013.) (26:42 min)

 

 

 

 

 

United-States-Marine corporal on medevac helicopter in Afghanistan. The Guardian. multi source image 300 x 230 cropped
Injured Marine Cpl. Burness Britt reacts after being lifted onto a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army’s Task Force Lift “Dust Off,” Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment June 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

No guaranteed ‘golden hour’ for Marines headed into the next big fight.”

“A lifesaving Defense Department policy that whisks wounded troops off the battlefield to lifesaving care within the first hour of injury is a luxury Marines may not have headed into the next big fight.

“The policy is credited with a near 98 percent survival rate, Rear Adm. Colin G. Chinn, Joint Staff surgeon, told audience members at a Navy medical symposium held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, on Wednesday.

“But as the U.S. is facing more capable adversaries, it’s a promise the Defense Department no longer believes it can keep.”

Shawn Snow. “No guaranteed ‘golden hour’ for Marines headed into the next big fight.” Marinecorpstimes.com (February 15, 2018) 

https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2018/02/15/no-golden-hour-for-marines-headed-into-the-next-big-fight/

 

Feature image courtesy Talking Proud Archives — Military Medevacs & Medics, Angels of Mercy. Accessed 25 July 2018

 

ckb face indian screen image indirect 150 x 221

Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted, Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked author to share with those best able to keep the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that.  

http://www.strifeblog.org/2018/08/02/henry-a-wounded-soldier-forgotten-by-all-in-an-american-jail-by-all-except-his-brothers-who-fell-beside-him-in-vietnam