Category Archives: Media

New Online VA Tools

Since the inception of this blog, I have used the Catholic War Veterans as a resource. They are top notch, honest and reliable in the information they gather and work diligently to disseminate to the veteran community.  We are all here to do our small part to keep all veterans in the loop and hopefully not  misguided by our sensationalism addicted media, who frequently do not do all their homework. Veterans Affairs cannot be relegated to sound bites and talking points.  Can you imagine running the Armed Forces in that fashion? T

We are excited to share a few new online tools VA has recently launched to help Veterans learn more about the benefits they’ve earned.

Please help us share this online content by sharing it with your email contact lists and posting it online – via your websites, online newsletters and social media accounts.

If you have any questions about this or other VA content, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


VA Disability Claims process:

Vocational Rehabilitation:


Fully Developed Claims:


VA Hiring:

God Bless +

Jose M. Garcia PNC

National Service Officer

Catholic War Veterans

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Linked to Death,Atherosclerosis in Veterans/ Semper Fi Magazine

Post-traumatic stress disorder, (PTSD) more than doubles a veterans risk of death from any cause and is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2010.

The study states that doctors should offer as much preventive treatment for heart disease for clients with PTSD. The researchers, are Naser Ahmadi, MD, and Ramin Ebrahimi, MD.

The research studied the electronic medicals records of 286, 194 veterans, with an average age of 63, who are being treated at hospitals in Southern California and Nevada. The cohort group includes veterans of the Korean War.

The conclusion of the study indicated that veterans diagnosed with PTSD had 2.41 times the rate of death from all causes compared to veterans who have not experienced PTSD. Or at least not diagnosed with the symptoms. They then surmise that PTSD alone is an independent predictor of death from all causes.

Now, let Veteran Veritas  enter the picture. I cannot use the the adjective that first comes to mind for this study. So let your veteran imaginations take you there.

What I will say is that I first distrust this study because it smells of the subterranean influence of the Insurance industry that does not want to provide life insurance for the young soldiers returning from war, as a result of their pre-existing conditions —which is War!   A soldier who is diagnosed with PTSD cannot currently get life insurance. Truth.

Man is this a hard pill to swallow.

So, the citizen soldier who just defended the United States of America and our system of capitalism, the insurance industry being the very DNA of that system, can in turn not be defended by the very system they just defended.  There will  be an outcry beyond belief when this becomes known nationwide. Johnny can come marching home with ribbons of valor galore, but he cannot get life insurance if he seeks a little help for his nightmares of horific events, because he  is normal. All of the literature on PTSD indicates that, “it is a normal reaction to aberrant events.”  So, where am I going here? I believe studies like this should be scrutinized way beyond their practical value, for the core intent. I suspect that some of that intent is to have on record, medical data, to support the decline for life insurance.  Not unlike the bogus studies of a Psychiatrist named Sally Satel, who was on the payroll of the American Enterprise institute to conduct their dirty work in attempting to alter the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Psychiatry, DSM, so as to not have to award do many disability claims for PTSD, this study is akin to that effort that was suspended as a result of the incredible feedback from veterans, like this writer, who are up at night combing the net.  I will have more to say about this in future postings.

I would like to see what our readers have to say about this study and why from its initial reading it is laced with errors of science.  I will be revisiting this subject frequently over the next several months.

Next week I will be visiting with some high command at Camp Pendleton, and this topic is on the agenda.

As a footnote, many seasoned journalists have a bit of disdain for medical journalism as so much of it has hidden agendas of promotion of self and product, or is bent toward the pharmaceutical industry, meaning stockholders.

No Labels Organization Launches At Right Time

How timely for this organization to just be coming out of the shoot.  The fueling of partisan polarities by pugnacious pundits who are plugging books or promoting their positional pomposity would do well to be portioned away from poisonous political piss and focus on E Pluribus Unum.

That is what our soldiers are defending.

If the Congress can take a break from their agenda, so can the Main Stream Media and 24/7 Cable news that feeds at the trough of  triviality and  travail.

Maybe  the nations Poet Laureate can team up with the nations Psychiatrist and speak to us about the concept of maturity.

That is what our soldiers are defending.

Dear No Labeler–

We will have a No Labels Citizen Leaders’ call with Senator Joe Lieberman this morning.  Please click here for the call-in details. There will be an organizing call at 11:15 a.m. EST for those who are interested in discussing the No Labels organizing strategy before the 11:30 a.m. conversation with Senator Lieberman about the 112th Congress.

Also, we would like to share a statement with you regarding the recent tragedy in Arizona, please read the full statement below. We encourage you to share your personal thoughts and feelings surrounding the events by clicking here.

Thank you,

Nancy Jacobson & Mark McKinnon
Co-Founders of No Labels

Statement from No Labels

The horrific act of violence that occurred Saturday in Arizona has shocked us all to our core and spurred many Americans to ask some hard questions, both about this specific incident and the larger political forces that may have contributed to it. We at No Labels believe this kind of conversation, as painful as the circumstances surrounding it are, is in the best interests and traditions of our country. At times of crisis, when our fundamental democratic values are threatened, we come together as Americans and directly confront our challenges.

But for our country to move forward from this tragedy, we have to talk carefully as well as candidly. We do not yet know all the facts behind this senseless act, and it would be inappropriate and irresponsible to rush to judgment or point fingers of blame at the moment, as some sadly have already done. This is no time for self-aggrandizement or partisan point-scoring — that’s part of the problem, not the solution.

It is clearly, though, a time for self-reflection, as Sheriff Dupnik eloquently put it. Based on the immediate and intuitive reactions of so many Americans, we know enough to say that something is deeply wrong with our political discourse — and that with this incident, a dangerous line has been crossed. As we grieve for those who died and pray for the recovery of those who were injured, we hope this moment of mourning will lead us to engage each other with more civility and respect and see each other not as opponents or enemies but as Americans.


Beware of Senator Who Speaks With Forked Tongue/ VVA Press Release

ress Release September 23, 2010 No. RI-002

Mokie Porter
301-585-4000, Ext. 146

Beware the Senator Who Speaks With Forked Tongue

By John Weiss, Vietnam Veterans of America Rhode Island State Council

North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, the leading Republican on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said yesterday, as reported by the Associated Press, that he has “concerns about a proposal to spend billions of dollars on disability compensation for Vietnam veterans who get heart disease and wants to make sure that science supports the expansion of benefits.”

The “proposal” Burr is referring to is a decision by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, based on the recent National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine committee report, “Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2008.

A little history is in order: From 1962 to 1971, the U.S. military used Agent Orange and other herbicides in Vietnam and elsewhere to defoliate the jungle canopy, to destroy crops, and to clear the perimeters of U.S. bases. These herbicides were sprayed from fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, trucks, and backpack sprayers. The drums that stored these chemicals were often recycled and put to various other uses, sometimes to collect rain water, to serve as barbecue grill, etc. Nearly three million veterans served in Southeast Asia.

Contained in these herbicides was dioxin, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-paradioxin—one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man.

On August 31, 2010, in the Federal Register, the Department of Veterans Affairs published the final rules amending the adjudication regulations concerning presumptive service connection, concluding that there was a positive association between exposure in Vietnam to certain herbicides and the subsequent development of three diseases: hairy cell leukemia & B-cell leukemias; Parkinson’s disease; and ischemic heart disease.

And for the first time in history, on September 23, Burr and his colleagues will call into question the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, as outlined in the Agent Orange Act of 1991.

Recognizing that Burr was voted into the House of Representatives in 1994, it is obvious that he was not involved with the passage of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 (Public Law 102-4), which passed the House and the Senate without a single nay vote. In fact, today, 19 years later, there are only 36 members of Congress still serving who voted for passage of this act in 1991.

The Agent Orange Act of 1991 acknowledges the culpability of toxic exposures in health conditions that manifested years after a veteran’s service. Included in the law is the authority for the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to, on a biannual basis, provide a review of all scientific studies and research on the association between dioxin and specific diseases; and include recommendations for future research.

The act further grants the Secretary of the VA the authority to determine if a presumption of service connection is warranted for any of the health conditions addressed in the report.

If Sen. Burr is uncomfortable with the Secretary’s determinations based on the National Academy of Sciences recommendations, perhaps he would be more comfortable with the finding of the U.S. Air Force Ranch Hand Study, conducted by the U.S. Air Force on those who participated in the aerial spraying program, as sited in the 1992 testimony of Dr. Barry L. Johnson, Assistant Surgeon General, before the House Subcommittee on Human Resources and Intergovernmental Relations:

A recent study on the health status of Vietnam veterans who participated in Operation Ranch Hand did not find any signs of liver disease, but did report increased levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood (a second report does not support these increases). In addition, an increase in body fat, diabetes, and blood pressure were also noted. These effects were strongly associated with TCDD levels in the serum. Ranch Hand veterans also had changes in blood (increased white blood cells, platelet, IgA, and sedimentation rates) which suggest a chronic inflammatory response, although no immunologic system diseases were identified. These immune system changes were also strongly associated with serum TCDD levels. These results differ from those reported in previous analyses of the Ranch Hand group in 1982 and 1985. The earlier analyses did not include an assessment of serum TCDD levels. A physical examination of Ranch Hand veterans is currently under way.

There is no doubt, that Burr, though too young to have faced conscription during the Vietnam Conflict, views himself as a supporter of those who served.

In fact, seven months ago, it was Sen. Burr who introduced a resolution recognizing March 30 as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.” Proclaimed Burr, “There’s no question that our troops served our country bravely and faithfully during the Vietnam War, and these veterans deserve our recognition and gratitude.  Unfortunately, when these service members returned home, they were caught in the crossfire of public debate about our nation’s involvement in the war.”

Today, Vietnam veterans are again caught in the “crossfire of public debate,” as Burr and others balk at the price of providing for the continuing cost of care for those whom he and others recognize “served our country bravely and faithfully during the Vietnam War.”

Words of praise and gratitude do not cost anything. Veterans’ compensation for service-related health conditions do. Sen. Burr, which is it?

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation’s only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA’s founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

Federal Tax Law Change

I feel assured our readers will embellish this posting till Thanksgiving.

Federal Tax Law Changes Update 03: Probably the most distributed email for the past month

has been a scare message (Subject: Tax Hikes in 2011) that talks about what would be in three waves the largest tax hike in history starting in January 2011. While the intent of the email is to tie in the increases in taxes and changes in law directly to President Obama‘s redistribution of income‘ scheme and some of the items in the email are directly related to the President’s health care bill, there are several items that should be of concern to citizens. The partisan language at the conclusion of the email is not warranted, and the assertion that this is an attempt to force America to ‘Soviet style Socialism and then Communism‘ is simply a scare tactic. So let‘s drop the partisanship and examine the particular items.  MOAA sat down with their resident financial expert, Phil Dyer, CFP, and went over the list item by item. Their thoughts in brackets follow corresponding items:

First Wave: Expiration of 2001 and 2003 Tax Relief. In 2001 and 2003, the Congress enacted several tax cuts for investors, small business owners, and families which are all scheduled to expire on 1 JAN 2011. [These changes would become the regulations and terms only if Congress did not act to extend the cuts]:

Personal income tax rates will rise. The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which two-thirds of small business profits are taxed). The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent. All the rates in between will also rise. Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates. The full list of marginal rate hikes is: The 10%, 28%, 33%, and 35% brackets rises to an expanded 15%, 28%, 31%, 36%, and 39.6% respectively. [It is extremely unlikely that the tax brackets will not be extended, especially for anyone making under less than $200k annually or $250k for families filing jointly.]

Higher taxes on marriage and family. The ―marriage penalty‖ (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income. The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child. The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level. The dependent care and adoption tax credits will be cut. [This would be something that would hit the most American families directly and, by MOAA’s estimations, has about as much chance of expiring as the Rams have of winning the Super Bowl this year.]

The return of the Death Tax. There is a 55% top death tax rate on estates over $1 million. A person leaving behind two homes and a retirement account could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones. [This has a high probability of coming back in some incarnation, but it is extremely unlikely that the rate will be for estates worth over $1 million.]

Higher tax rates on savers and investors. The capital gains tax will rise from to 20% and the dividends tax will rise to 39.%. These rates will rise another 3.8% in 2013. [Will most likely increase in 2013 vice 2011.].

Second Wave: Obamacare. [Can hardly be considered a historic wave of new taxes and affects a much smaller portion of the populace than the email implies.]

Americans will no longer be able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines

except insulin.

A cap on flexible spending accounts (FSAs) of $2500. [For most people, the $2500 cap won’t be noticed.]

Additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA increases to  20%,

Third Wave: The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and Employer Tax Hikes. [Would only be an issue if Congress failed to enact an extension to the yearly fix that ensures that the number of families affected remains low.]

Without indexing families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level.

Small business expensing will be slashed to $25,000 maximum and 50% expensing for larger businesses

will disappear.

Taxes will be raised on all types of businesses. [The fate of any increases are, at worst, still up in the air, and at best, an almost sure-to-pass group of extensions. Especially in a hot mid term election year, MOAA expects Congress to ensure that these changes don’t come into effect.]

The deduction for tuition and fees will not be available. Tax credits for education will be limited. Teachers will no longer be able to deduct classroom expenses. Coverdell Education Savings Accounts will be cut. Employer-provided educational assistance is curtailed. The student loan interest deduction will be

disallowed for hundreds of thousands of families.

Charitable Contributions from IRAs no longer allowed. [Expired at the end of 2009.]

The W-2/1099R/1042S tax forms sent by a private concern or governmental body gross income figure will be increased to show the value of whatever health insurance you are given. [The amount is not taxable and does not factor into your tax brackets.]

[Source: MOAA News Exchange 8 Sep 2010 ++]

God Bless
Jose M. Garcia
Past National Commander
Catholic War Veterans,USA
Better to understand a little than to misunderstand a lot.
In God We Trust

Agent Orange; "The Gift That Keeps On Giving"

At the rate that Vietnam Veterans are dying from Agent Orange related illnesses, the cynicism in the ranks of us who have those illnesses, is such, that one might say, the contract disputes will assist in reducing the cost of delivery as many more will simply be dead before their claims are completed.
If a veteran dies with a disability rating and a service connected illness, the spouse will then be eligible for benefits.  Add those costs to the treatment costs of the returning combatants, and you have an actuarial nightmare.
There have already been grave concerns about the delays in Agent Orange claims for the past 30 years. One of those speculative concerns is that the bean counters realize, the longer the delay the less the outlay. They never quite planned for the overwhelming number of veterans with AO issues to still be in the system this long.
Now in our 60’s, we are a tenacious lot, evidenced by the 1980’s movie with the late John Ritter, titled, “Unnatural Causes.” A must see for anyone familiar with the subject. It is a docu-drama based on the true story of a Veterans Benefits Counselor named, Maude DeVictor, who refused to quit.
One thing is for sure, the true cost of war,  in prolonged real time,including the Un-Declared ones is now a matter of increasing transparency.
Must we really trouble ourselves with  wondering why there is no money left over for jobs?  How sophomoric to even worry about the answer.
While we build and prop up nations across the globe, without the substantial financial  support of our Allies, we cannot build or prop up our own.
Tax cuts, schmax cuts! Red State, Blue State.  Second Amendment

Mortality Clock

rights and Mosque mania, are all distractions from the cost of war. And they are working!

Humpty Dumpty  never did join a political party. He is awaiting his claim to be completed from his fall.
In my view, we are in an Alice and Wonderland, upside down world, America is the disabled veteran and we are the leaders, even with our Agent Orange, Senator Simpson.
The following is for your information and distribution to your members.
John A Miterko
Veterans Advocate

VA abruptly issues second contract for Agent Orange claims system

BY BOB BREWIN 09/08/2010

The Veterans Affairs Department awarded IBM a contract in July to develop within three months a system to process claims for veterans suffering from diseases related to the Vietnam-era chemical Agent Orange. But last week officials inexplicably issued another contract searching for a second contractor to do the job in one-third the time, while the IBM contract remains in place.

VA needs the new system to process up to 240,000 claims for 15 illnesses determined to be the result of military personnel being exposed to Agent Orange, a defoliant sprayed on the jungles during the Vietnam War. VA presumes all personnel who served in Vietnam were exposed to Agent Orange, and the 15 illnesses they might have are a result of coming into contact with the chemical.

According to VA, its policy of presuming the diseases are a result of exposure to the chemical will simplify the process for veterans receiving compensation because the department will forgo the normal process of requiring veterans to prove their illnesses began, or worsened, during their military service in Vietnam. Paying Agent Orange claims will cost the United States $13.4 billion.

Department officials decided this year to process the claims separate from the other systems the Veterans Benefits Administration uses. In March, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said he wanted to tap private sector skills to fast-track the development of the system. “This will be a new way of doing business and a major step forward in how we process the presumptive claims we expect to receive over the next two years,” he said at the time.

VA initially planned to award the contract in April, but delays pushed that move up to July. IBM eventually won the $9.1 million pact. The procurement calls for delivery of a production-ready prototype by October and full production by December.

VA asked IBM to develop a fully automated system and a machine-readable claims form that veterans can electronically download and, at their option, electronically submit.

Officials want the forms to be shorter than the current document, well-suited to an automated processing method, and they expect IBM to use commercial systems to the fullest extent possible. They also want employees and veterans to be able to access the system via the Web, with a separate data repository linked to existing departmental systems.

But on Sept. 3, officials quietly posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website a second procurement for the same processing system. The document was not accompanied by any public announcement. The new procurement includes roughly the samerequirements as the original contract, but a shortened delivery deadline.

VA wants the selected contractor to demonstrate the capability to electronically process claims within 15 days of the award and to provide a production-ready system 15 days later, a daunting task, according to one contractor who declined to be identified.

The system must be operational next month, and bidders must submit their proposals by Friday, only a week after the solicitation was issued, which are due Friday.

Harold Gracey, a consultant with Topside Consulting who served as chief of staff at VA from 1994 to 1998, said he assumed the department put out the second procurement as a backup plan in case IBM cannot deliver its system on time.

Gracey added VA could find a second contractor to meet its requirements, but bidders also have to recognize the negative publicity that would result if they fail to deliver. A source familiar with VA said he viewed the second source procurement as a poke at IBM to fulfill its requirements on time.

Veterans groups said whatever the reasons behind the second procurement they were worried the department might not be able to meet its deadlines. “VA’s unusual announcement for a second contract, without any details released to the public, raises significant concerns among veterans about VA’s transparency and VA’s ability to process Agent Orange claims in a timely and accurate manner,” said Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense. “We hope VA issues an explanation about this and puts to rest veterans’ concerns.”

VA officials did not reply to numerous requests from Nextgov to comment on the status of the IBM contract and did not respond to a query on why they issued a second procurement. IBM executives also did not reply to calls and e-mails about the status of the company’s contract.

God Bless
Jose M. Garcia
Past National Commander
Catholic War Veterans,USA
Better to understand a little than to misunderstand a lot.
In God We Trust

First Chaplain Killed In War Zone Since 1970/ Associated Press/ Dan Elliott

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Dan Elliott AP

DENVER (Sept. 2) — A chaplain killed in Afghanistan this week was the first Army clergyman killed in action since the Vietnam War, the military said Thursday. Capt. Dale Goetz of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., was among five soldiers killed by an improvised bomb on Monday.

Cpt. Dale A. Goetz.

U.S. Army
Capt. Dale A. Goetz, 43, is the first Army chaplain to die in action since the Vietnam War.

Before Goetz, the last Army chaplain to die in action was Phillip Nichols, who was killed by a concealed enemy explosive in Vietnam in October of 1970, said Chaplain Carleton Birch, a spokesman for the Army chief of chaplains. The Air Force said none of its chaplains were killed later than 1970. A spokesman for the Navy Chaplain Corps, which also provides clergy to the Marines, didn’t immediately return a phone call. Goetz, 43, listed his hometown as White, S.D. He once served there as pastor of First Baptist Church, the Argus-Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D., reported. Goetz, his wife and their three sons recently joined High Country Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, where Fort Carson is located, the newspaper reported. A church spokeswoman referred questions to the Army on Thursday, and Army officials declined to comment, citing the family’s wishes. Officials said Goetz had hitched a ride on a resupply convoy when he was killed. Birch said chaplains are considered noncombatants and don’t carry weapons, but they are accompanied by a chaplain’s assistant, a soldier who is armed. A chaplain’s assistant, Staff Sgt. Christopher Stout of Worthville, Ky., was killed in Afghanistan in July, Birch said. Chaplains don’t go on combat patrols but do go onto battlefields to conduct services and counsel soldiers, Birch said. “Many of those places where they travel are very dangerous,” he said. The Army has more than 2,800 chaplains, including those in the Guard and Reserve. More than 400 are in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Suicide Rates Still Climbing

Suicides in the Armed Forces and the National Guard  and Reserves are still alarmingly on the rise. With all the due diligence and immense outreach that is ongoing in all 50 States, we cannot seem to abate the savage spirit that invades and intrudes the soul of our young veterans of war.

Sixty-five members of the Guard and Reserve have taken their lives in the first six months of 2010. This figure does not include veterans or the Navy and Marines. Even more alarming.

We have an epidemic of mental health issues in the military that all best efforts are not touching. Or, they are, and the numbers could be larger were it not for the ubiquitous prevention programs both in and out of the Armed Forces.  Everyone in the veteran advocacy business is on the look out for the signs of depression and deep despair.

I am trained in crisis and suicide prevention work and remain constantly vigilant through my contacts and network of associates. We man 24  hour hot-lines and spend endless hours on the phone assuring our comrades, who have weathered the horrors of war, that there is light on the other side of those nightmares.  Yet so much is related to place and timing. So few ever seem to be around when that dreaded moment and savage god enters the picture.

Just this week a Wisconsin National Guard Soldier, Matthew Magdzas, a 23 year old married man took the life of his pregnant wife and his dogs and then ended his own mortal life.  Impulse or plan? Flashbacks or internal rage? Who in God’s name knows.  It is when the antecedent conditions are not apparent that we remain impotent in the realm of prevention.  And of course the victim and victims are generally unaware moments before the act. How is that to be prevented?

I have the experience of  7 suicides in my life. Four of them Vietnam Veterans. One of them was my roommate Joe Herman, who had the world on his side, talent, looks, money. And the demons of war intruded one night and put a bullet in his head.  Could I have prevented it? I say yes. But again, we are never there, right there, when needed. How can you be there before those one car accidents when the vet elects to just run off the road, as was the case in the years from 1975-90.

58,000 died in Vietnam. It has been reported by Pointman Ministries and other Veteran Outreach programs, that another 110,000 committed suicide during those years; twice the fatalities in the war.

32 soldiers including 11 in the Guard and Reserves took their own lives in the month of June. That is a rate of  one a day and at level only matched by the period after the Vietnam War.   How do we address this as a citizenry not a military? And mind you, those are figures for active duty, not veterans who have been discharged.

Are we, are we, our brothers keeper?  Are we able to even address in polite company such a taboo subject? Are the figures simply so daunting that we are just left in a numbness of mind that has no direction of home.  When it was reported back in 2008 that a full 50% of the suicides amongst veterans were in the ranks of the Reserve and the Guard, did they slow down the deployment of these young men and women until we got a grip on the nuances of the Guard traninng? No, we needed numbers, big numbers for the General’s, “Surges”, all of them.  And now they are surging home, and the ghosts of war are at our doorstep. In the last two articles I asked our readers if we are ready for a reception that may not be as rosy as we wish.

Is it possible to have every neighborhood trained and armed with a compassionate platoon of listeners and go-to people for times of distress? We cannot just live behind the bumper stickers of support. we have to have some feet…or cliche as it sounds, some boots on the ground. We need a “surge” of  families and friends who will be at the vets side in a heartbeat. The now running national TV advertisement with all the Medal of Honor recipients, beseeching the young soldiers to get help, as many of them acknowledge they wish they had done, is a laudable move in the right direction.

The trail into the woods of suicide is dark and booby trapped. No single hypothesis has ever touched the ambiguous and complex motives that lead to suicide. Literature is strewn with attempts to grapple with the under-belly of this human particular. From Judas Iscariot, to the writings of,  T.S. Elliot’s Wasteland, the Myth of Sisphus,  Sartre’s  “No Exit,” Soren  Kierkegaard’s concept of despair that surpasses all clinical definitions of depression, to the endless tomes of poetry from the Greek tragedies to the modern Sylvia Plath, no one has captured the monster in a cage for lengthy study. It is time to come out of the closet and dance with the demons of war. so as to escort them off the floor.

“The passion for destruction is also a creative passion.”  Michael Bakunin

The massive amount of material from sociologists and clinical psychiatrists only adds  to a pile of  documentation for professional journals and epidemiologists and not one iota of helpfulness for the layman. And most all of the research is ipso post facto. Prevention is vacant.

It may well be that no one wants to enter the shabby, chaotic, tortured and agonizing world of suicide.  With all of our revered Research Foundations and think tanks- the Heritages the Cato’s the Enterprise Institutes the Rand’s, et al, is there not a one of them that could  side-step long enough to research what is killing the souls of  our  young warriors?

Is this the arena for the Jeff Bazos and Bill Gates clan to direct their foundation monies?

Is the business of life and death to subconsciously abhorrent for study?

Life and death is the reason for war. One side must win. Suicide apparently elects to not take sides.

Only the dead know the end of war.

48 States Slam Westboro Church

48 States and the District of Columbia have filed legal complaints to the Supreme Court in support of the Father of a young Marine  who died in Iraq. The father sued anti-gay protesters affiliated with the Westboro Church Baptist Church in Kansas, who believe that the death of Cpl Matthew Snyder is a result of God’s punishment for the Untied States Armed Forces tolerance of  gays in the military.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case to determine whether or not the protesters are protected by the First Amendment. The brief that was filed on June 1st, 2010, indicates a compelling interest in protecting the sanctity of funerals.

Are not the Westboro Baptists mocking God? How can they prop themselves up into the throne of judgment and declare the source of killing? Is there not some queer form of idolatry of belief here?

If they are intractable in their belief and need to protest, I would be happy to raise the money to purchase some tickets to Iraq, so they could go to the source of  the war- and meet their creator at the source of the action.

Lest We Forget

The Arizona Immigration Legislation has cast a long shadow over the working of our State. It’s merit will most likely find its own level. Since its enactment, I detect nothing in the MSM about the passing of the following very fine piece of legislation that is only being spoken of in small group conversations. Very few Veterans know of its passing.  I guess it is just not sensational enough to garner attention.

The journalistic cliche marches on, “you cannot tell a story about- there was no plane wreck today.”  Veterans affairs frequently fall into that column. Lip service on Holidays and then 360 days of  dreary news.

I want to say thanks one last time for the effort and the assertiveness it took to get this bill passed. These college educated veterans are the ones who will be leading us out of the morass created by decades of political narcissism and phony polarities. They did not fight for that!

The following is the presentation made by David Alegria to the Arizona House of Representatives.

Arizona House Bill 2350 Purple Heart; Tuition Waiver Becomes Law
April 23, 2010
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed historic legislation granting tuition waivers to Veterans who
were awarded the Purple Heart Medal, are 50% or more disabled, were residents of Arizona or
stationed in Arizona when they were wounded, and are otherwise qualified to attend a State
Community College or University.
The passage of House bill 2350 is historic because this is the first bill that has been passed by the
Arizona State Legislature that provides a State benefit specific to Combat Wounded Veterans.
While every politician finds it politically correct to proclaim support for the military soldier and for
veterans’ issues, the Governor and the Arizona State Legislature bellied up to the table and showed
their support in a concrete manner. The law now requires all State Community Colleges and
Universities to waive the tuition for all veterans meeting the criteria of this law.
In the forefront of this historic event was State Senator Frank Antenori. Senator Antenori introduced
the legislation as a member of the Arizona House of Representatives prior to his appointment to the
Arizona State Senate. Senator Antenori is a Gulf War Veteran and the leading advocate in the
Arizona Legislature for issues affecting members of the military and veterans. Military Order of the
Purple Heart Commander of the Tucson Chapter, David Alegria was the lone member of veterans
organization providing testimony before the House Education Committee and the Senate Committee
on Veterans and Military Affairs. There was not one vote cast by any legislator against this bill
during the committee hearings and roll call votes in both Chambers of the Arizona State Legislature.
Governor Jan Brewer, a staunch supporter of veterans issues, signed the bill into law without
The passage of House Bill 2350 is important for a number of reasons:
• Combat Wounded Veterans are having a difficult time collecting on the much promised
education benefits of the NEW G.!. Bill. The Veterans Administration says it is doing
the best it can, but processing problems still remain. Some of these veterans have
mobility issues due to their injuries and find it difficult to chase after the VA. Others,
just don’t want to take up another fight. Most of these veterans are part-time patients,
spending most of their free time at the veterans administration hospital clinics.
• Combat Wounded Veterans having difficult financial hardships will use the proceeds of
the NEW G.1. Bill to help house and feed their families. They then pay for their
education by taking out student loans.
• The NEW G.1. Bill permits veterans to transfer their education benefit to one of their
dependents. So far, 100,000 veterans have transferred their G.I Bill education benefits
to dependents. These wounded warriors are still looking out for others before
Our student veterans deserve this benefit and the State of Arizona has stepped up and provided the
necessary assistance. All of these veterans already paid for this benefit with their blood in some far
off land.
House Bill 2350: Purple Heart; Tuition Waiver
Tucson Citizen Article by Blogger/Writer Mike Brewer