Tag Archives: military

Lawyer Reads Own Confession: Devil’s Backbone almost the final stop in my bipolar legal career

 

screenshot_20190816-000539_hancom office editor6836098927651268400..jpg

Screenshot_20190817-014510In the Spring of 2012 and while living in Tennessee, bi-polar symptoms sent me to psych hospitals three times in three months. The last time was after Williamson County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Deputies came to visit me at the Natchez Trace Bridge. I’d spent too long discussing the merits of crashing onto State route 96 – in the seventh wealthiest county in entire country – with the lady at the “please don’t jump” number on the sign in this feature photo. (1-800-273-8255)

Since my return to Tucson in April of 2012, I’ve experienced no psychiatric emergencies of any type, barring frequent suicidal ideations during my first year or so back here. Cognitively, I’m at the top of my game. I wrote the bulk of this essay in the few weeks between my sixth and my last hospitalizations.

 

 

screenshot_20190815-040104_hancom office editor2690232125786516130..jpg

 

****

Screenshot_20190818-234045.png

[PLEASE NOTE: BULLET POINT LIST OF SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS AND HOW TO RESPOND HAVE BEEN ADDED IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THIS ESSAY.]

.

VIDEO: AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION TO THIS AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY AND IDENTICATION OF THE RESOURCES FOR MILITARY AND FIRST RESPONDERS MADE AVAILABLE AFTER THE READING.

*

.

VIDEO: AUTHOR READS “Suicide Bridge on the Devil’s Backbone: in the Spring of 2012, almost the final stop in my bipolar legal career.”

***

.

 

Screenshot_20190817-011747_Photos.jpg

The Natchez Trace was called the Devil’s Backbone long before Spring 2012, when it almost became the final stop in my bipolar legal career

[March 2012, somewhere near Franklin, Tennessee] The patients in the psychiatric unit mumbled their revulsion for the distinguished lawyer whose bloated colostomy bag had slipped open, sending its vile contents onto the floor and furnishings of the break room where the patients had gathered to watch television.

I loathed the man for another reason.

Moments earlier the gentleman confided in me that he bore the ugly bag because he had blown out his insides with buckshot. He had tried to kill himself, he said, because bipolar disorder had destroyed his legal career.

My disgust wasn’t at the wretched odor that now hung in the break room. It was at this man; his simple existence mocked my hope that my own bipolar disorder would stop terrorizing me and let me return to what society calls worthwhile work.

Two days earlier, I’d almost killed myself. Williamson County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Deputies came to visit me at the Natchez Trace Bridge, an award-winning structure that as of 25 January 2019, had kept its promise to 32 men and women who chose this extraordinarily beautiful part of Middle Tennessee to end their lives. I’d spent too long discussing the merits of crashing onto State route 96 – with the lady at the phone number on the “please don’t jump” sign.

And now I stood, again, in pale blue scrubs behind the locked doors of a mental hospital. I looked down at the fecal trail that followed my fellow lawyer down the hall. I thought of my own path. It reeked too. It consisted of less-than-political statements and acts, simmered in the cauldron of pharmaceutical side effects I had to endure, I was told, if I was to live.

 

Screenshot_20181222-235944

 

It wasn’t always this way. I had started my legal career as a prosecutor who didn’t have the slightest clue how many people are broken. But my case load included more than criminal cases. It included the commitment of men and women who had become a danger to themselves or others. In stately courtrooms, the County Jail, and ammonia-laced emergency rooms, I asked judges to lock up broken people like this lawyer I had just met.

To lock up people like me.

imageIn the years that followed¸ my legal career continued to intersect the blurry line that is mental illness. Reviewing psychiatric records, questioning expert witnesses who tried to explain the depths of somebody’s darkness and getting courts to see that my clients were more than just numbers on file folders, were just things that any lawyer should do. That I was particularly passionate about mental health issues didn’t occur to me.

I slept little in those days. Back then, I could rely, again and again, on having enough energy to work late at my office or to meet with clients at the Oklahoma County jail well past midnight even though I had to be in court first thing in the morning.

Despite a caseload of time-intensive state and federal cases, I volunteered time and energy to serve as an officer of my local chapter of the Federal Bar Association and as a member of the American Inns of Court. I judged law school moot court competitions and taught a couple of CLEs. I took the time to write articles and essays that proposed strengthening a federal criminal statute and which encouraged my colleagues to think outside the box about the death penalty and about how we practice law.

“How do you keep up that pace?” asked the lawyer who would soon handle my divorce. “You’ll burn out,” he said.

John was right.

Screenshot_20190816-222806On a blistering July afternoon, my mind began to race itself toward a crash, with both brake and gas slammed to the floor. The intensity was strangely familiar, but this time the sensation was unbearable. I was in the passenger seat, with my wife driving and our daughter in the back.

I jumped.

In the days that followed, I roamed the streets, a shopping mall, barely sure where I was. I rummaged through my mind like a bargain hunter digs through the leftovers at a garage sale. I wanted to find something familiar.

But no matter what I turned over in my mind, I couldn’t find my clients’ names. I couldn’t find what their cases were about. And I couldn’t find a single memory that told me how I could file even the simplest of legal documents for them.

I was already scheduled, as president of my Federal Bar Association chapter, to welcome attorneys who had recently been admitted to practice in federal court. It was no big deal. But I was terrified, and for good reason. As I stepped to the podium and began to speak, I found that everything I knew so well about our federal courts was balled up in my mind like a spider web. I heard that same confusion in the words I tried to welcome my fellow lawyers with. I didn’t want anyone to see me after that.

In the months that followed, I passed off my cases to other lawyers, closed my practice, left my wife and child, had an affair, wrote an overly confessional 300-page novel manuscript, returned to Nashville – where I’d finished high school – and tried to start a new life.

I stopped listening to news and to any commentary about the world around me. Old friends Sammy Hagar and Angus Young started coming around a lot more often. And I banged hard on my old upright piano, hoping to drown out the screaming tension that had taken over my life.

The doctors diagnosed me with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. According to Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, co-author of the definitive medical text on Manic-Depressive Illness, bipolar is a condition that is characterized by fierce energy, high mood, quick intelligence, increased risk taking and decreased need for sleep. It also comes with a very high risk of suicide.

I certainly knew of bipolar disorder and had studied the DSM diagnostic criteria. It was the unbridled manic-depressive symptomology that made a lot of those commitment hearings necessary during my tenure as an assistant D.A. The condition never has been and never will be a stranger to my criminal cases, either as a prosecutor or a defense lawyer.

I considered the diagnosis a death sentence.

 

John had been right. It would have been impossible – at least for me – to maintain that same kind of pace indefinitely. But I was handling it all pretty well and hadn’t sacrificed any of the top-shelf legal work that I did for my clients.

Something specific must have triggered otherwise dormant symptoms. At least it’s always seemed that way to me.

At the time, I was trench deep in reviewing seemingly never-ending evidence that federal prosecutors had turned over in a multi-state child-sex-trafficking case. I was having a hard time shaking an image my mind had created while reading through FD-302s and other investigation documents: a ten-year-old girl who’d been kidnapped and taken from her home state so that she could be sold out for sex. What was left of the child’s broken body had been found in a dumpster behind a grocery store across town. The poor kid had refused a bottom bitch’s order to let an over-the-road trucker rape her.

My little girl had been that age not too many years earlier.

.

.

Screenshot_20190813-001330.png

.

Whatever the cause or causes, I still considered my new bi-polar diagnosis a death sentence. For my career. For my life.

But men and women in white coats with their names embroidered on them told me that if I took my medications, saw a therapist and steered clear of drugs and alcohol, that my condition would no longer interfere with my life and my ability to practice law. This should be easy enough, I thought. Illegal drugs had never been a problem for me. And I hadn’t abused alcohol since I was in college.

I did everything the doctors told me to do. And I did it exactly as they had instructed. Between late Summer of 2004 and April of 2012 – seven years ago – my bipolar disorder cost me two jobs and forced me to close a private practice. BP severed relationships with those I cared about most, alienated friends and family, and put me in psychiatric hospitals seven times. My manic depression made me want to die more times than I can count.

[Even though I’ve not once thought of killing myself for almost six years, I remain wary. Bipolar disorder has a way of jumping up and biting you in the ass. So I may again clutch a 38 revolver as i try to figure out how to make the smallest mess for folks to have to clean up. I my again stand on a sidewalk, struggling to make an educated guess as to optimal moment when I should step off the sidewalk and into the path of a bus traveling at 40 mph. If so, I hope I’ll do a better job remembering this analysis than I did that day in late March or early April of 2012, when I drew near to a jumping bridge on the Devil’s backbone.]

“I can either kill myself, which would take me away from those who love me but it would stop the pain, or I can choose to live. If I am to live, I’m going to have to remember five important truths.

First, I am not alone with this illness. And the lawyer who filled himself with buckshot is not alone either. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, we are among more than fifteen million people (statistic needs updating) who suffer from severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder during a given year. As my medical expert explained it to jurors some years ago, people with bipolar disorder can rise to the very top of their profession. And, the physician explained, we’re talking about people with household names.

Screenshot_20190819-010138A second fact I need to remember is that there are organizations out there to help me and my loved ones. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) are just two of the groups dedicated to helping individuals and their families cope with what can be a disabling condition. Crisis hotlines exist in many cities for those who think they can’t go on.

That there have been profound pharmaceutical advances is a third truth I should keep in mind if I am to avoid becoming just another statistic. I need to remember that some of my medications have helped me live and work as well as anyone else. It’s just that sometimes the medications need changing. Yes, I become weary as the doctors try to find one or more that works. But the science of treating brain disorders has allowed medications to target parts of the brain with increased focus and efficacy. The likelihood that medications will again help me function is greater if I just let the doctors continue their work.

The fourth truth I should remember about bipolar disorder is that it has forced me to stop and ask if my career is consistent with my passion in this life. Years before many ask the question, I have the opportunity to ask “what am I here for?” and to change direction while there is still time.

[Now, I maintain a perfectly good Tennessee law license. And before that I had a perfectly good Oklahoma law license. There’s never been reason to investigate me for professional misconduct. And even though bipolar disorder can be a fast track to a criminal record, I still don’t have a criminal record. But even so,] bipolar disorder has given me a fifth issue to consider.

Manic-depressive illness has forced me to look deep inside and find my worth in who I am and not in what I do. It’s not easy. Ours is a society that tells people they count if they work in professions that others think matter. That is, the more others pay for someone, the greater that person’s worth.

But I have a worth separate and apart from what others say or pay. I have worth because the Divine says so – because God says so – and because I am part of the human family. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “the greatest difficulty is that men do not think enough of themselves, do not consider what it is that they are sacrificing when they follow in a herd, or when they cater for their establishment.” Bipolar Disorder has forced me to see the truth in Emerson’s statement. It has forced me to tell the establishment that it will no longer define my worth. Strange as it sounds, bipolar disorder has given me a reason to live.

 

screenshot_20190309-143958_hancom office editor819770597381952934..jpg

 

.Screenshot_20190811-221200_Chrome

 

 

Screenshot_20190810-095820

Sandra Day O’Connor, Associate Justice of The Supreme Court of the United States (25 Sept. 1981 – 31 Jan. 2006)

 

WARNING SIGNS OF SUICIDE

 

Screenshot_20190813-123313

.

.

screenshot_20190620-144006_hancom office editor7356037015652063365..jpg

Five Finger Death Punch

WRONG SIDE OF HEAVEN – scrolling list of resources for past and present mil

Wrong Side of Heaven + resources for all past and present military personnel

BLUE ON BLACK. The Gary Sinise Foundation to benefitFirst Responders.

Official music video for Blue On Black (feat. Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Brantley Gilbert & Brian May) by Five Finger Death Punch. Stream or Download:https://5fdp.ffm.to/blueonblack

Proceeds from this song to be donated to The Gary Sinise Foundation to benefit First Responders. If you are considering donating yourself then you can do so by visiting – https://www.garysinisefoundation.org/ Fol

Screenshot_20190812-231605.png

The Fighter
C.J. Chivers
After graduating in January 1988, Chivers served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He graduated from the United States Army’s Ranger School, served in the first Gulf War and in peacekeeping operations during the Los Angeles riots in 1992 before being honorably discharged as a captain in 1994.[5] Chivers graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism a year later.[6]
Screenshot_20190812-232427.png
FAST COMPANY
Tracking The Lives Of Veterans To Figure Out Where They Slip Through TheCracks
About 20 veterans a day commit suicide, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. But that number is probably far higher if you factor in those less than honorably and dishonorably discharged, which the VA doesn’t include in its statistics.
In general, these deaths often have contributing factors that are recognized in hindsight, say, depression or substance abuse, and maybe access to a firearm. But that doesn’t really tell much about who the person was or how they interacted with their community.
A $3.5 million research initiative led by the nonprofit veteran services group America’s Warrior Partnership, along with the University of Alabama and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, aims to change that by first tracking all of the local-level risk factors that lead to veteran suicides, and then creating a holistic plan to help communities prevent more of them.
Jim Lorraine, the president and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership (AWP), considers this a new kind of sorely needed battle plan. By his count, there are 21 million former military service people in America, but the VA only serves about half that number. “It’s a general way to say it, but we can move from fishing for those veterans who might take their life, to hunting for [them],” he says. (Lorraine is the former Deputy Command Surgeon for the United States Special Operations Command, so prone to militaristic terminology.)

Screenshot_20190812-232651.png

Re Bad Paper: Legal Services Center, Harvard University, National Veterans Legal Services Program, & Swords to Ploughshares. (2016, March). Underserved: How the VA Wrongfully Excludes Veterans with Bad Paper.

https://law.yale.edu/system/files/area/center/liman/document/underserved_liman_program.pdf

Screenshot_20190812-234330.png

The VA encourages those who need help to reach out: “Veterans, Service members, and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, send a text message to 838255, or chat online to receive free, confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, even if they are not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care.” https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/

.

.

.

.

.

Screenshot_20190812-233810.png
Screenshot_20190812-233142

(GREAT BRITAIN / UK) 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. If life is getting you down and you need someone to speak to, hit the chat button below. We’re here.

https://allcallsigns.org/

.

.

.

.

https://combatresearchandprose.com/2019/07/07/combatresearchandprose-introduction-to-new-source-for-real-world-research-products-created-with-policy-makers-in-mind/

 

LAWYER READS HIS RECENT CONFESSION – Suicide Bridge on the Devil’s Backbone: in the Spring of 2012, almost the final stop in my bipolar legal career

Screenshot_20190815-140433.png

[PLEASE NOTE: LINKS TO VETERAN- AND-FIRST RESPONDER FOCUSED RESOURCES APPEAR BELOW. BULLET POINT LIST OF SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS AND HOW TO RESPOND HAVE BEEN ADDED IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THIS ESSAY.]

VIDEO: AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION TO THIS AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY AND IDENTICATION OF THE RESOURCES FOR MILITARY AND FIRST RESPONDERS MADE AVAILABLE AFTER THE READING.

*.

VIDEO: AUTHOR READS “Suicide Bridge on the Devil’s Backbone: in the Spring of 2012, almost the final stop in my bipolar legal career.”

***

[PLEASE NOTE: LINKS TO VETERAN- AND-FIRST RESPONDER FOCUSED RESOURCES APPEAR BELOW. BULLET POINT LIST OF SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS AND HOW TO RESPOND HAVE BEEN ADDED IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THIS ESSAY.]

In the Spring of 2012 and while living in Tennessee, bi-polar symptoms sent me to psych hospitals three times in three months. The last time was after Williamson County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Deputies came to visit me at the Natchez Trace Bridge. I’d spent too long discussing the merits of crashing onto State route 96 – in the seventh wealthiest county in entire country – with the lady at the “please don’t jump” number on the sign in this feature photo. (1-800-273-8255)

Since my return to Tucson in April of 2012, I’ve experienced no psychiatric emergencies of any type, barring frequent suicidal ideations during my first year or so back here. Cognitively, I’m at the top of my game. I wrote the bulk of this essay in the few weeks between my sixth and my last hospitalizations.

.
4a69ddbb-2638-44af-8e43-290a8e58bcd2-WAM-NatchezTraceBridge-02

They lost loved ones to suicide on the Natchez Trace Bridge. They say better barriers could prevent more tragedies.

https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/local/williamson/2019/01/25/natchez-trace-bridge-suicide-barriers-prevention/2481298002/

****

The Natchez Trace was called the Devil’s Backbone long before Spring 2012, when it almost became the final stop in my bipolar legal career

[March 2012, somewhere near Franklin, Tennessee] The patients in the psychiatric unit mumbled their revulsion for the distinguished lawyer whose bloated colostomy bag had slipped open, sending its vile contents onto the floor and furnishings of the break room where the patients had gathered to watch television.

I loathed the man for another reason.

Moments earlier the gentleman confided in me that he bore the ugly bag because he had blown out his insides with buckshot. He had tried to kill himself, he said, because bipolar disorder had destroyed his legal career.

My disgust wasn’t at the wretched odor that now hung in the break room. It was at this man; his simple existence mocked my hope that my own bipolar disorder would stop terrorizing me and let me return to what society calls worthwhile work.

Two days earlier, I’d almost killed myself. Williamson County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Deputies came to visit me at the Natchez Trace Bridge, an award-winning structure that as of 25 January 2019, had kept its promise to 32 men and women who chose this extraordinarily beautiful part of Middle Tennessee to end their lives. I’d spent too long discussing the merits of crashing onto State route 96 – with the lady at the phone number on the “please don’t jump” sign.

And now I stood, again, in pale blue scrubs behind the locked doors of a mental hospital. I looked down at the fecal trail that followed my fellow lawyer down the hall. I thought of my own path. It reeked too. It consisted of less-than-political statements and acts, simmered in the cauldron of pharmaceutical side effects I had to endure, I was told, if I was to live.

It wasn’t always this way. I had started my legal career as a prosecutor who didn’t have the slightest clue how many people are broken. But my case load included more than criminal cases. It included the commitment of men and women who had become a danger to themselves or others. In stately courtrooms, Spartan jail cells and ammonia-laced emergency rooms, I asked judges to lock up broken people like this lawyer I had just met.

To lock up people like me.

In the years that followed¸ my legal career continued to intersect the blurry line that is mental illness. Reviewing psychiatric records, questioning expert witnesses who tried to explain the depths of somebody’s darkness and getting courts to see that my clients were more than just numbers on file folders, were just things that any lawyer should do. That I was particularly passionate about mental health issues didn’t occur to me.

I slept little in those days. Back then, I could rely, again and again, on having enough energy to work late at my office or to meet with clients at the Oklahoma County jail well past midnight even though I had to be in court first thing in the morning.

Despite a caseload of time-intensive state and federal cases, I volunteered time and energy to serve as an officer of my local chapter of the Federal Bar Association and as a member of the American Inns of Court. I judged law school moot court competitions and taught a couple of CLEs. I took the time to write articles and essays that proposed strengthening a federal criminal statute and which encouraged my colleagues to think outside the box about the death penalty and about how we practice law.

“How do you keep up that pace?” asked the lawyer who would soon handle my divorce. “You’ll burn out,” he said.

John was right.

On a blistering July afternoon, my mind began to race itself toward a crash, with both brake and gas slammed to the floor. The intensity was strangely familiar, but this time the sensation was unbearable. I was in the passenger seat, with my wife driving and our daughter in the back.

I jumped.

In the days that followed, I roamed the streets, a shopping mall, barely sure where I was. I rummaged through my mind like a bargain hunter digs through the leftovers at a garage sale. I wanted to find something familiar.

But no matter what I turned over in my mind, I couldn’t find my clients’ names. I couldn’t find what their cases were about. And I couldn’t find a single memory that told me how I could file even the simplest of legal documents for them.

I was already scheduled, as president of my Federal Bar Association chapter, to welcome attorneys who had recently been admitted to practice in federal court. It was no big deal. But I was terrified, and for good reason. As I stepped to the podium and began to speak, I found that everything I knew so well about our federal courts was balled up in my mind like a spider web. I heard that same confusion in the words I tried to welcome my fellow lawyers with. I didn’t want anyone to see me after that.

In the months that followed, I passed off my cases to other lawyers, closed my practice, left my wife and child, had an affair, wrote an overly confessional 300-page novel manuscript, returned to Nashville – where I’d finished high school – and tried to start a new life.

I stopped listening to news and to any commentary about the world around me. Old friends Sammy Hagar and Angus Young started coming around a lot more often. And I banged hard on my old upright piano, hoping to drown out the screaming tension that had taken over my life.

The doctors diagnosed me with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. According to Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, co-author of the definitive medical text on Manic-Depressive Illness, bipolar is a condition that is characterized by fierce energy, high mood, quick intelligence, increased risk taking and decreased need for sleep. It also comes with a high risk of suicide.

I certainly knew of bipolar disorder and had studied the DSM diagnostic criteria. It was the unbridled manic-depressive symptomology that made a lot of those commitment hearings necessary during my tenure as an assistant D.A. The condition never has been and never will be a stranger to my criminal cases, either as a prosecutor or a defense lawyer.

I considered the diagnosis a death sentence.

John had been right. It would have been impossible – at least for me – to maintain that same kind of pace indefinitely. But I was handling it all pretty well and hadn’t sacrificed any of the top-shelf legal work that I did for my clients.

Something specific must have triggered otherwise dormant symptoms. At least it’s always seemed that way to me.

At the time, I was trench deep in reviewing seemingly never-ending evidence that federal prosecutors had turned over in a multi-state child-sex-trafficking case. I was having a hard time shaking an image my mind had created while reading through FD-302s and other investigation documents: a ten-year-old girl who’d been kidnapped and taken from her home state so that she could be sold out for sex. What was left of the child’s broken body had been found in a dumpster behind a grocery store across town. The poor kid had refused a bottom bitch’s order to let an over-the-road trucker rape her.

My little girl had been that age not too many years earlier.

.

.

Screenshot_20190813-001330.png

.

Whatever the cause or causes, I still considered my new bi-polar diagnosis a death sentence. For my career. For my life.

But men and women in white coats with their names embroidered on them told me that if I took my medications, saw a therapist and steered clear of drugs and alcohol, that my condition would no longer interfere with my life and my ability to practice law. This should be easy enough, I thought. Illegal drugs had never been a problem for me. And I hadn’t abused alcohol since I was in college.

I did everything the doctors told me to do. And I did it exactly as they had instructed. Between late Summer of 2004 and April of 2012 – seven years ago – my bipolar disorder cost me two jobs and forced me to close a private practice. BP severed relationships with those I cared about most, alienated friends and family, and put me in psychiatric hospitals seven times. My manic depression made me want to die more times than I can count.

[Even though I’ve not once thought of killing myself for almost six years, I remain wary. Bipolar disorder has a way of jumping up and biting you in the ass. So I may again clutch a 38 revolver as i try to figure out how to make the smallest mess for folks to have to clean up. I my again stand on a sidewalk, struggling to make an educated guess as to optimal moment when I should step off the sidewalk and into the path of a bus traveling at 40 mph. If so, I hope I’ll do a better job remembering this analysis than I did that day in late March or early April of 2012, when I drew near to a jumping bridge on the Devil’s backbone.

“I can either kill myself, which would take me away from those who love me but it would stop the pain, or I can choose to live. If I am to live, I’m going to have to remember five important truths.

First, I am not alone with this illness. And the lawyer who filled himself with buckshot is not alone either. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, we are among more than fifteen million people (statistic needs updating) who suffer from severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder during a given year. As my medical expert explained it to jurors some years ago, people with bipolar disorder can rise to the very top of their profession. And, the physician explained, we’re talking about people with household names.

A second fact I need to remember is that there are organizations out there to help me and my loved ones. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) are just two of the groups dedicated to helping individuals and their families cope with what can be a disabling condition. Crisis hotlines exist in many cities for those who think they can’t go on.

That there have been profound pharmaceutical advances is a third truth I should keep in mind if I am to avoid becoming just another statistic. I need to remember that some of my medications have helped me live and work as well as anyone else. It’s just that sometimes the medications need changing. Yes, I become weary as the doctors try to find one or more that works. But the science of treating brain disorders has allowed medications to target parts of the brain with increased focus and efficacy. The likelihood that medications will again help me function is greater if I just let the doctors continue their work.

The fourth truth I should remember about bipolar disorder is that it has forced me to stop and ask if my career is consistent with my passion in this life. Years before many ask the question, I have the opportunity to ask “what am I here for?” and to change direction while there is still time.

[Now, I maintain a perfectly good Tennessee law license. And before that I had a perfectly good Oklahoma law license. There’s never been reason to investigate me for professional misconduct. And even though bipolar disorder can be a fast track to a criminal record, I still don’t have a criminal record. But even so,] bipolar disorder has given me a fifth issue to consider.

Manic-depressive illness has forced me to look deep inside and find my worth in who I am and not in what I do. It’s not easy. Ours is a society that tells people they count if they work in professions that others think matter. That is, the more others pay for someone, the greater that person’s worth.

But I have a worth separate and apart from what others say or pay. I have worth because the Divine says so – because God says so – and because I am part of the human family. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “the greatest difficulty is that men do not think enough of themselves, do not consider what it is that they are sacrificing when they follow in a herd, or when they cater for their establishment.” Bipolar Disorder has forced me to see the truth in Emerson’s statement. It has forced me to tell the establishment that it will no longer define my worth.

Strange as it sounds, bipolar disorder has given me a reason to live.

.

Screenshot_20190808-235316.png

.

Screenshot_20190813-123313

.

.

screenshot_20190620-144006_hancom office editor7356037015652063365..jpg

Five Finger Death Punch

WRONG SIDE OF HEAVEN – scrolling list of resources for past and present mil

Wrong Side of Heaven + resources for all past and present military personnel

BLUE ON BLACK. The Gary Sinise Foundation to benefitFirst Responders.

Official music video for Blue On Black (feat. Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Brantley Gilbert & Brian May) by Five Finger Death Punch. Stream or Download:https://5fdp.ffm.to/blueonblack

Proceeds from this song to be donated to The Gary Sinise Foundation to benefit First Responders. If you are considering donating yourself then you can do so by visiting – https://www.garysinisefoundation.org/

Screenshot_20190812-231605.png

The Fighter
C.J. Chivers
After graduating in January 1988, Chivers served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He graduated from the United States Army’s Ranger School, served in the first Gulf War and in peacekeeping operations during the Los Angeles riots in 1992 before being honorably discharged as a captain in 1994.[5] Chivers graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism a year later.[6]
Screenshot_20190812-232427.png
FAST COMPANY
Tracking The Lives Of Veterans To Figure Out Where They Slip Through TheCracks
About 20 veterans a day commit suicide, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. But that number is probably far higher if you factor in those less than honorably and dishonorably discharged, which the VA doesn’t include in its statistics.
In general, these deaths often have contributing factors that are recognized in hindsight, say, depression or substance abuse, and maybe access to a firearm. But that doesn’t really tell much about who the person was or how they interacted with their community.
A $3.5 million research initiative led by the nonprofit veteran services group America’s Warrior Partnership, along with the University of Alabama and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, aims to change that by first tracking all of the local-level risk factors that lead to veteran suicides, and then creating a holistic plan to help communities prevent more of them.
Jim Lorraine, the president and CEO of America’s Warrior Partnership (AWP), considers this a new kind of sorely needed battle plan. By his count, there are 21 million former military service people in America, but the VA only serves about half that number. “It’s a general way to say it, but we can move from fishing for those veterans who might take their life, to hunting for [them],” he says. (Lorraine is the former Deputy Command Surgeon for the United States Special Operations Command, so prone to militaristic terminology.)

Screenshot_20190812-232651.png

Re Bad Paper: Legal Services Center, Harvard University, National Veterans Legal Services Program, & Swords to Ploughshares. (2016, March). Underserved: How the VA Wrongfully Excludes Veterans with Bad Paper.

https://law.yale.edu/system/files/area/center/liman/document/underserved_liman_program.pdf

Screenshot_20190812-234330.png
[PLEASE NOTE: Late last year, President Trump and the Congress made sure that the VA provides short-term mental health services to veterans in crisis but who are not receiving services from the VA. For more info, contact:]
The VA encourages those who need help to reach out: “Veterans, Service members, and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, send a text message to 838255, or chat online to receive free, confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, even if they are not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care.” https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/
.
Screenshot_20190812-233810.png
Screenshot_20190812-233142

(GREAT BRITAIN / UK) 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. If life is getting you down and you need someone to speak to, hit the chat button below. We’re here.

https://allcallsigns.org/

.

.

.

https://combatresearchandprose.com/2019/07/07/combatresearchandprose-introduction-to-new-source-for-real-world-research-products-created-with-policy-makers-in-mind/

“Not all who have served are “veterans” in the eyes of the Department of Veterans Affairs” says report.

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. . . .”

a2c9bfaca7b4137818b6ed54daedbf29

[RESEARCHER UPDATE 6 June 2019]  My original note below, reports on the 2016 report from Swords to Plowshares and the Veterans Legal Clinic at Harvard. And it speaks of the notable loyalty and compassion that I’d seen among Marines, including for those who’ve died at their own hands and the women who’ve served as well. Given the nature of service that our Nation requires and has always required of our Marines, I reference the report’s disturbing finding that the VA denies services to Marines far more than it does Airmen. My personal observations in the note were largely based on what I’d observed over time in Leatherneck Lifestyle (The Underground), a Facebook group whose members are Marines or, as in my case, a civilian who’s been really grateful for them ever since some really scary days in West Africa when I was a little kid. This photo of Facebook data from 16 May 2018 confirms my membership in the closed group. But the full set of records received from Facebook a year later, on 11 May 2019, confirms the reason that I can’t learn from those Marines now: soon after 276 of them and their supporters found another one of my posts useful, I was yanked from their group. And all evidence of my ever being a member vanished. This is the same Facebook data set that falsely reports that I stopped following aggressive, leftist, anti-American pages from groups that i never knew existed and if I had, almost certainly would never have visited them – UNLESS I could use the angry left’s pages to learn more about the extreme left alliance that wants an innocent, patriotic American woman in Tucson dead. 
https://charlesbloeser.wordpress.com/2019/06/05/five-reasons-it-makes-sense-to-believe-that-an-extreme-left-alliance-wants-an-innocent-american-dead/

#WeArePSYOP
#psychologicaloperations

 

 

Screenshot_20190604-080610

ORIGINAL RESEARCHER NOTE: 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, why: The VA has effectively decided that Marines are more than five times more “Dishonorable” than Airmen.

 

Screenshot_20190605-115531.png

 

Here’s an excerpt from the March 2016 report as accessed online 21 December 2018:

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/

In recent months, some veterans have been given the right to file class action lawsuits against the VA for being denied services due to discharges they say resulted from conduct that’s symptomatic of trauma experienced while doing their military jobs. Here’s an early article about this type of  class certification.

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

 

SOMETIMES THE AMERICAN FOSTER CHILD SYSTEM WORKS QUITE EFFICIENTLY; IT JUST DOES SO THE WRONG WAY

RE CHOICE OF FEATURE IMAGE:

The term “first responder” appears nowhere in this essay. But first responders are often the first persons to know that an orphaned child will be entering the foster child system. So many first responders are parents, so none should be surprised that being the first one to encounter a dead parent and, upon learning there’s no family to take in the orphaned children, can be a heavy burden to bear. This image, borrowed from a Five Finger Death Punch video that’s raising money for the Gary Sinese Foundation fbo first responders, is here to honor those who often know before anyone else that a child’s life is about to be turned upside down.

 

Homeless parents – veteran or otherwise – want their kids back, too.

This essay draws from my substantial experience as a courtroom lawyer participant in America’s foster care “system,” most notably in criminal and juvenile courts. But as I’ve written elsewhere, “during my four years with a [Tucson, Arizona] non-profit that still does a lot right by a lot of people – veterans included – I got better at looking forward and observing how one domino in someone’s life falls onto another. And that one falls onto the next one. And so on.”
This essay is another in a series of plain-English writings from Spring 2017, in which I turn over a few rocks so that we can better see how and why some folks end up homeless. How and why some folks seem to be always sleeping rough. This particular work shines a light on why it’s sometimes near impossible to put families back together again after their kids end up in America’s foster system.
Feature image attribution: The Resilience of Military Families | RAND
https://www.rand.org/blog/rand-review/2016/06/the-resilience-of-military-families.html
time for some weaponized sarcasm.
I’ve encountered rough-sleeping moms and dads who’ve been told by child welfare workers that they can get their children back if they’ll just find a suitable place for their family to live. Of course, these are the same parents who aren’t eligible for much of the family housing that would satisfy child services because their children aren’t with them at the time. No, I have to tell them. No. It doesn’t make sense to me either. No. I don’t know what they’re supposed to do.
Even if homeless parents manage to get that housing, it’s too often not enough to get their kids back. Much of the time, child services tells parents that they’ll get their children back if they find a safe place for the family to live so long as they complete courses on parenting and anger management and what not.
“It’ll be easy,” says the child services worker. She then gives the parents a list of the classes they must complete by a certain deadline, names of the relevant providers, and phone numbers the parents must call to enroll in the classes. More phone numbers for caring ones who don’t respect these parents enough to return their calls. Calls left every day for three weeks. Messages that echo panic as the deadline to complete the required courses nears. And even if a class provider or Child services staff does eventually, perhaps on the eve of their court date, call, it may be too late. By that time maybe the parents lost phone service again for non-payment. And perhaps there’s no time left on the parents’ free “minute phone.” After all, it eats up a lot of minutes when you have to call and leave a bunch of pointless messages.
It’s all very sad, of course. But who knows? Maybe the foster family that’s been caring for their children is growing attached to the kids. And the family has a steady income. Money lets them pay the electric bill so that no one has to sleep in a car. The kids can have stable education. And the foster family will take them to a house of worship every week. Just think of the opportunities these kids’ll get!
You know it and I know it. The parents are losers. There’s no way that they’ll ever do any of that for them. Come on everybody. This is nobody’s first trip to the rodeo. We all know those kids’ll get such a better life with that foster family. When the parents’ court day finally arrives after weeks of unreturned calls, the “best interest of the child” clearly demands that the worker testify to the judge under oath that the parents haven’t complied.
And now it’s the parents’ turn to testify to a judge who’s barely taller than the stack of deprived child files that she drew theirs from. But this is the first time that either parent has been to a court. It’s all new. The pedestrian court room is so full that it snaps its buttons, and family members and attorneys spill into the hallway. A baby cries, and a bailiff quickly tells a mother to take her infant outside.
These parents may have been told by an appointed lawyer who first met them today that they will get a turn to speak to the judge. So as one case after another gets called, they wait their turn and try to focus and think of what they might say to the judge in this unfamiliar place with unfamiliar rules. They try to listen to the cases called before theirs for clues, but it’s hard to hear from where they sit. A thin buzz hovers around and through them while along the sidelines lawyers have hushed conversations with police officers and child welfare workers and attorneys for the State.
It gets even harder for these parents to focus each time they hear the stern woman in the black robe say it is ordered that a family’s children will not be returned at this time and a new court date will be set for several months from now. When that happens, wailing drenches and saturates the anxious courtroom.
And as these parents watch that family leave the courtroom, they hear those parents shatter courtroom decorum. Their anger and frustration trigger a line of cops against the far wall. Tired cops who just got off night shift and now wait to testify in their various cases. Those cops don’t want to be here. Too many don’t want to be questioned about what they filed with the court. They wrote their reports. Shouldn’t that be good enough? But they show up anyway. There’s just too big a chance that if they don’t, their cases will be dismissed. And that doesn’t look good to their higher ups. And sometimes it leaves kids with a truly dangerous predator who has hurt or killed before. “You said it was a slam dunk!” that other mother screams at her lawyer as she slams open the door into the hallway.
But now that these parents get to speak to the judge, what will they say? Somehow that worker who told them that all she wants to see is for this family to be reunited forgot to tell these parents to get a spiral notebook at the dollar store. A notebook they should use to write a note about every date and time anything happens that has something to do with their children’s case. Especially every time they try to do what Child services told them to do to get their kids back and every time they called or tried to call anyone about their case. Yes, somehow that worker who cares so much about reuniting their family just forgot to tell them to do this. Of course, the same worker has no excuse for not telling them. This was the 300th time she’s testified in a case like this.
But in the worker’s defense, maybe she’s simply trying to make the whole process run smoother. Or, run at all. You know, so that the law’s insistence that “the best interests of the child” can actually mean something. For at least some of the kids.
None of that can happen, of course, if the worker has to be bothered with one parent after another who’s prepared to contradict her testimony to the judge. With facts. With specificity. With credibility. She’s got too many kids on her caseload and too much paperwork already. She doesn’t have time for nonsense like that.
So, the worker testifies to the judge directly from her own notes, and her agency’s version of the parents’ compliance is the one the judge thinks is stronger. Far too often, unless the judge has a thorough – enough report from a court-appointed special advocate (CASA[i] worker) or a guardian ad-litem, almost the only thing the court will be allowed to consider as it decides whether to release the children to their parents is the sworn testimony of a government agency that cares.
After the lady in the black robes has heard from everyone who has a say in this proceeding, she finds that the parents have not complied and orders that it’s in the best interests of the children to stay in the care of child services. Without suitable family members anywhere close or who are suitable to take the kids in, the children will stay – either together or severed from one another – with whatever foster families the government puts the kids with. Another court date on the same issues is set for months from now. What else is the judge supposed to do in the brief minutes that she can spend on each case?
Maybe these parents, the ones who don’t have any of the resources that many of us assume we own by birthright, will somehow find a way to satisfy the worker and the Court enough to recover their children. But they may not, and a court may sever these siblings’ relationships with their parents as neatly and cleanly as a nurse clips an umbilical cord.
So, after the frost melts in the shadowed spaces between the trees and gives way to families and picnic baskets at the edge of a Civil War battlefield, and after summer is spent and the colors that fall to the ground take on regal hues, twice, I’ll run into those parents again.
If I’m careless, I’ll ask them, “so, how’s the family”?[ii]

Ponca City News article re swearing in as ADA. 350 x 267Researcher’s role as a participant in America’s “foster-child system”

The author’s responsibilities in criminal and civil matters while serving as an assistant district attorney for the State of Oklahoma were, among others:
(a) reviewing child welfare reports to determine which warranted applications for judicial child removal orders and possible criminal prosecution;
(b) representing the State’s interests in civil “deprived child” actions arising from these cases, as well as in civil cases alleging actions by minors that, if done by an adult, would be criminal offenses and subject to prosecution;
(c) learning whether a crime committed against or by a child occurred on land and under circumstances that authorized the State of Oklahoma to act (the judicial district I served is a patchwork of jurisdictions that include a number of Indian tribes and in which the land that the State couldn’t touch might be no bigger than the lot where the crimes occurred);
(d) primary assistant D.A. on call to respond to ER, courthouse, or other locations in order to seek, if necessary, order from the judge authorizing the emergency commitment of persons deemed danger to self or others, an order which, in the absence of suitable family, resulted in kids going into foster care;
(e) took turns with other assistant D.A.’s on call to respond to scenes of suicide and other deaths when requested by law enforcement;
(f) on occasion, participating in case conferencing with other relevant actors re children placed in the custody of child services and perhaps housed in foster homes; and
(g) serving as the District Attorney’s representative at some of the informal foster parent gatherings held in that judicial district.
Mr. Richardson and attorney Charles Bloeser State of Tennessee carjacking and murder trial. 375 x 210

Regardless of which side I’ve represented over the years, America’s foster system has always insisted on showing up, either openly or by lurking in the shadows in cases involving:
(a) criminal defendants, appellants, and petitioners who had been removed from their homes as children due to abuse, neglect or a parent’s inability to keep them housed, fed, and in school;
(b) clients whose children had been removed for any or all of the same reasons and who had not been reunited with their kids;
(c) persons arrested, charged and sometimes previously convicted for committing crimes against children, including sex crimes, assault, criminal neglect, and homicide; and
(d) persons who insisted on pleading guilty to crimes they didn’t commit or which the State couldn’t have proven at trial, under threat that child services would be sent into the home to remove their children if they did not plead guilty.

Feature Image courtesy National Military Family Association. Accessed on-line 5 Oct 2018. http://www.militaryfamily.org/kids-operation-purple/deployment.html
Endnotes
[i]“CASA/GAL volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA/GAL volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.” National CASA Association | 800.628.3233 | www.casaforchildren.org
[ii]“Marine family opens heart, home to foster children”
By Lance Cpl. Harley Robinson | 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing | October 13, 2016
https://www.3rdmaw.marines.mil/News/News-Article-Display/Article/973309/marine-family-opens-heart-home-to-foster-children/
2018 Women’s Day article features U.S. Army Lt. Col. whose family has – despite deployment to Iraq – taken in 34 foster children since first being approved by state officials in 2013: https://www.womansday.com/relationships/family-friends/a20962937/military-family-foster-parents/
PDF of 2016 U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services/Children’s Bureau factsheet for military families considering adoption (which in many cases begins with fostering children who can’t be or aren’t returned to their families): https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/f_militia.pdf
Charles.photo.lawlibrary. 150 x 200

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

Hostile holidays? Give Sir Anthony Hopkins two minutes in Spielberg’s Amistad: a source to turn to when “there appears no hope at all”

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

Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins, as John Quincy Adams presenting oral argument before the Supreme Court of the United States, in Amistad (1997). This two-and-a-half minute clip reminds us of an oft-forgotten well from which we might draw courage when “there appears no hope at all.”

“The other night I was talking with my friend, Cinque. He was over at my place, and we were out in the greenhouse together, and he was explaining to me how when a member of the Mende—that’s his people—how when a member of the Mende encounters a situation where there appears no hope at all, he evokes his ancestors . . . tradition. See, the Mende believe that if one can summon the spirit of one’s ancestors, then they have never left, and the wisdom and strength they fathered and inspired will come to his aid. James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams . . . we have long resisted asking you for guidance. Perhaps, we have feared in doing so, we might acknowledge that our individuality, which we so, so revere, is not entirely our own. Perhaps, we’ve feared an appeal to you might be taken for weakness. But we’ve come to understand, finally, that this is not so. We understand now, that we’ve been made to understand, and to embrace the understanding, that who we are is who we were. We desperately need your strength and wisdom, to triumph over our fears, our prejudices, ourselves. Give us the courage to do what is right. And if it means civil war, then let it come. And when it does, may it be, finally, the last battle of the American Revolution.”

 

Legal citation for the real case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court:

The United States, Appellants, v. The Libellants And Claimants Of The Schooner Amistad, Her Tackle, Apparel, And Furniture, Together With Her Cargo, And The Africans Mentioned And Described In The Several Libels And Claims, Appellees, 40 U.S. 518; 10 L. Ed. 826 (1841).

 

Feature image attribution: Battle Bare for PTSD and Military Suicide, accessed online 21 November 2018 at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/292734044500114364/

 

 

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

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.

Worthless meds and destroyed documents make reuniting homeless veterans and their children in foster care even harder

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

Here’s a new excerpt from my forthcoming article about traumatized foster children who, as members of America’s armed forces, serve with honor and distinction. It’s also about traumatized military families struggling to keep their own kids from being removed from the home, perhaps never to return.

As an assistant district attorney tasked with deciding which kids to ask the judge to remove from their homes, I had a hand in saving some lives. I’m certain of it. But I’m also quite sure that I made mistakes. Errors that spell-check could never catch and which can’t be fixed with word-processing software. Wrong decisions for which others would pay a high price.”

. . .

Discussing why homelessness makes it even harder to reunite families will be left for another day. But here are two examples:

Even if one is eligible for, and takes advantage of, VA services, it’s exceptionally hard to protect from theft, time, and the elements the medications needed to strengthen or stabilize a parent so that he can get and keep work and secure a place for the family to live. Kaiser-Permanente tells those who have to take insulin, “Take steps to store your insulin correctly, or it might not work.” Some of those steps? “Keep your insulin away from heat and light. Any insulin that you don’t store in the refrigerator should be kept as cool as possible (between 56°F and 80°F.); never let your insulin freeze. If your insulin freezes, don’t use it, even after it’s thawed.”83 Other medications must also be refrigerated if they’re to do any good. Certain long-term antipsychotic medications are among those.84 At least in the communities that I’m familiar with, refrigeration facilities for these folks don’t exist.

Military – think DD214 – and other documents also get stolen or weather-beaten to the point that they’re no good. But it’s documents like these that rough-sleeping parents need if they are to take advantage of housing and other services that child welfare requires before returning their kids. A church in my community offers to protect critical documents for those on the streets and then makes copies when they’re needed to apply for a job, enroll their kids in school, or for other reasons”

[end of excerpt]

 

dogtags of warriors KIA. Helmund Province. image accessed via Google images 2018 200 x 301

One view from the streets: Homeless ID Project (Phoenix, Arizona)

During a month living on the streets in 1987, the founder of Phoenix, Arizona’s Homeless ID Project learned that “the lack of personal identification documents was a serious impediment, preventing the homeless from accessing services to aid them in regaining their self-sufficiency.” 

https://azhomeless.org/about-us.html

The Phoenix charity explains why documents are necessary, their process for helping folks get them, and the Homeless ID project’s document safe-keeping service at https://azhomeless.org/about-us-299083.html

Some examples of the kinds of information available at Homeless ID Project’s website:

A state I.D. is essential for ending homelessness. You need an I.D. to get a job or secure housing and to access services like food stamps and medical insurance. Without an I.D., you are unlikely to find permanent employment or gain admission to school. You may also run the risk of being arrested. You are encouraged to obtain an Arizona I.D. as soon as possible. [. . .]

Why might I need a birth certificate?

If you’ve never had an Arizona I.D. before, you will need a birth certificate as a first step to obtaining a state I.D. if no other form of primary documentation can be obtained. You may also need a birth certificate when applying for Medical Insurance or a housing program.

What kind of identifying documents will I need to obtain a birth certificate?

Everything about the process of applying for your birth certificate depends on the state where you were born. If you were born in:

– Kentucky, Ohio, Vermont, Washington, or West Virginia: you do not need any I.D. to apply.

– Indiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin: you need a valid Arizona I.D. card that lists your current address, where you would like your birth certificate sent.

All other states require a valid state ID, with no address requirements.

I was born in a state that requires I.D. to apply for a birth certificate, but I don’t have any I.D.. What do I do?

If you don’t have a state I.D., there may be other solutions, depending on the state where you were born. If you were born in:

– Arkansas, Cook County (IL), D.C., Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York City, North Carolina, Oklahoma: We can send a letter on your behalf. Some of these states require documents accompanying the letter; for example, Oklahoma requires a piece of mail in your name, Florida asks for any document with your name on it, and Mississippi wants a copy of your Human Services I.D..

– Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York City, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, or Wyoming: We can notarize the application if you have a witness with a valid state ID who can attest to your identity. A few states have odd exceptions. Georgia allows an Employee I.D.. Idaho will take a DOC ID. Illinois (except Cook County) will accept two forms of non-state ID. Pennsylvania will take a letter from a case manager at a shelter. New York  and New York City requires two letters sent to the same address within 6 months for NY and 60 days for New York City.

For all other states, there is no currently accepted alternative to a valid state I.D.. We will work with you on a case-by-case basis and do our best to find a solution.

My minor children need their birth certificates. Can I apply for them?
Yes, you can apply for your minor child’s birth certificate if you are the parent (name must be on birth certificate) or legal guardian. The same identification rules apply as if you were requesting a copy of your own birth certificate; you will need a copy of your state I.D. or an accepted alternative, depending on the state.

I am worried about my birth certificate being lost or stolen. What should I do?
We strongly encourage you to store your birth certificate in our office. We have a secure, fire-proof safe where you may store your birth certificate, Social Security card, or State I.D. to prevent loss, theft, or damage. You can retrieve your documents at any time during normal business hours, without waiting in line.​

For more info from the Homeless ID Project: https://azhomeless.org/about-us-299083.html

 

dd-214-sample-form-separation-document. image courtesy militarybenefits.info accessed via Google images 10 Oct 2018. 225 x 297There are a number of ways veterans, next-of-kin and authorized representatives can obtain a copy of the DD-214 form.  In most cases the process takes 3-4 weeks.  The DD-214 form is often needed for a job application, VA Loan, medical benefits, association membership, a veteran’s funeral benefit, school enrollment, reenlistment or proof of service for the many businesses offering military discounts.

https://militarybenefits.info/how-to-get-dd-214-copy/

Read more: https://militarybenefits.info/how-to-get-dd-214-copy/#ixzz5Tb0anYf1

 

Feature Image: Phoenix, Arizona USA. Image accessed at Crowne Plaza Phoenix Airport via Google images on 10 October 2018.

 

ckb face indian screen image indirect 150 x 221Charles Bloeser is the creator of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication chronicles a tragic story that a former client – a combat-haunted Vietnam veteran – 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