Good News For Victims Of Agent Orange


Department of Veterans Affairs Promotes New Rule Expediting Claims Process for Veterans Thought to Have Agent Orange Exposure

Monday August 30, 2010

Washington, D.C. – Veterans exposed to herbicides while serving in Vietnam and other areas will soon more easily qualify for disability pay under a regulation published tomorrow by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The new rule expands the list of health problems VA will “presume” to be related to Agent Orange and other herbicide exposures.

Under existing regulations, veterans who served in Vietnam during the war and who have a “presumed” illness don’t have to prove an association between their medical problems and their military service. Adding to the list of illnesses and conditions presumed to be connected to herbicide exposure simplifies and speeds up the application process for veterans suffering from those conditions.

The new rule expands the list of conditions for which service connection for Vietnam veterans is presumed. The VA is adding Parkinson’s disease and ischemic heart disease and expanding chronic lymphocytic leukemia to include all chronic B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia. Eric Shinseki, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, said the decision is based on the requirements of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 and the Institute of Medicine’s 2008 Update on Agent Orange.

“This is an important moment for veterans who waited years for the support they deserved all along,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva of the decision. “Anyone who believes they were exposed to Agent Orange or other chemicals should immediately find out how this rule could help them. This decision is clearly overdue, and I applaud the VA for doing the right thing before any more veterans suffer needlessly.”

Veterans who served in Vietnam between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides. More than 150,000 Veterans are expected to submit Agent Orange claims in the next 12 to 18 months, many of whom are potentially eligible for retroactive disability payments based on past claims.

Individuals can visit to get an understanding of how to file a claim for presumptive conditions related to herbicide exposure, as well as what evidence is needed by the VA to make a decision about disability compensation or survivors benefits.

Additional information about Agent Orange and VA services for veterans exposed to the chemical is available at

Islam, Muslims And Marines: Isn't It Ironic?

Isn’t it ironic that our Armed Forces spend all their waking hours hunting down bad guys in Afghanistan and Iraq, while we are training civilian security forces and a nubile Army to be our allies in hunting down the bad guys? We are training Muslims.

With the assistance of anthropologists, psychologists,(black ops ones), linguists and bankers and civilian security specialists, we as liberators are spending billions of dollars to win the hearts and minds of  two Muslim nations while we await our government in a kit program to take hold. Is it not ironic that we need the Muslim people to free the Muslims from the Muslims?

As a Marine, I know our military history has been defined as being liberators not an occupation force. Now, declassified documents will show that the rather sudden deployment of 5000 Marines, about four years ago, was at the bequest of the Marine Command  who were concerned that the Cheney-Rumsfeld  directives were tipping in the direction of occupation forces in Iraq, and loosing sight of the hunt for the bad guys, whose stronghold was and is known to be the mountains of Afghanistan. This edgy occupation stuff was seen as a violation of a long Marine Corps tradition of getting in and out. With one tactical exception, which was to win the hearts and minds of the common people of Iraq. Meaning literally make friends with a Muslim nation.  Given the scene here at home, a bit ironic eh?

The tactic of winning the hearts and minds was created and promulgated inside the Marine Corps, by General Krulak during the Vietnam War. Combined Actions Platoons they were called; CAP Units. Marines were picked to live in the villages and provide security while weeding out the terrorists, (yes we called them terrorists then too), who were embedded in the civilian population. I was assigned to a CAP Unit in 1968 as security. I know well the merits of the program and the dark side, 82% died. We were heading that way in Iraq, like the Vietnamazation program it would have taken decades to refine. No tolerance for that. And the Marines were not in the game of being an occupation force. The irony? We used to say we were saving the Vietnamese from the Vietnamese.  Now we are their trading partner. Us and the happy Communists. Irony number 3.

Fast forward to 2010. Isn’t it ironic that we pour billions into four nations to help save the Muslims from the Muslims?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our soldiers are returning home to a rising crescendo of extremism that is of the ilk of hatred and insidious racism they just spent 2-4 tours of combat to abate.

Not so long ago we trained Iranian pilots at Davis Monthan Air Force Base. They were Muslim. We train Pakistani pilots and sell them F-16’s. They are Muslim.

We are leaving 50,000 troops,( we always leave 50,ooo, Germany, Korea,), and an undisclosed number of private contractors, men with guns, to complete the training of the marginal security force and the Army of Iraq. They are Muslim.

We built the largest embassy in the history of the United States in Baghdad, so as to have peaceful relations with the Muslim world.

We are spending more money than the GDP of  Afghanistan to train their security and Army. They are Muslim.

We are deeply in debt to Saudi Arabia, who hold 11% of our national debt. They are Muslim.

Poor General Petraeus  is trying to quell the transition strains of 13 Centuries of Suni rule,with the solicitation and support of the local Muslim people, while the psychiatric aberrancy of hatred for the same people in America escalates. Isn’t it ironic?

Germany, Japan, Russia, France, Mexico, England, Vietnam, China and of course the Native Americans, have all been enemies of our State at one time. All were targets of hate and demonization.  Isn’t it ironic that everyone of these nations is now a trading partner or a creditor of the United States.  And the beat goes on.

Where are we headed, another Inquisition?  T.S Elliot once said, “how much reality can humankind handle?” I might say, how much hate can a nation absorb?

It is still, to this day, hard to imagine that an angry contingent tried to say that Roosevelt was a Jew and therefore could not be trusted. Two lies in one,and,thank God, would now be considered a hate crime.

It was not that long ago, that Catholics scared the crap out of WASP America.  Rome, Rum and Rebellion was the siren cry.” Look out for Popery.” they would say. Those Catholics are trying to take over America!

“Its like rain on your wedding day/ It’s a free ride,when you’ve already paid/ Its the good advice that you just didn’t take/ Who would’ve thought…it figures/ Isn’t ironic?

-Alanis Morisette

Is not war the cruelest irony of all?

It seems that the ancient dictum, “anger eats the vessel that contains it,” is prophecy.   I do believe the Tower of Babel has arrived. God save the children.

Veterans Update From Catholic War Veterans Association


Misplaced Priorities, Again?

This week we learn that an appeals court in California has ruled the three-year-old Federal Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime to falsely claim to have received a medal from the US military, is unconstitutional.

A panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the defendant in a 2-1 decision, agreeing that the law was a violation of his free-speech rights and that because there is no evidence lies such as those told harm anyone, there is no compelling reason for those kinds of lies to be banned by the government.

The decision involves the case of Xavier Alvarez of Pomona, California, a water district board member who said at a public meeting in 2007 that he was a retired Marine who received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration.

NAUS Note: NAUS agrees with Justice Jay Baybee’s judgment (see quotation above).  Unfortunately, Baybee’s view was on the losing side of the Appeals Court’s 2 to 1 decision.  While the Court says Alvarez is free to claim the Medal of Honor, an eleven time all-star baseball player and former seven time Cy Young Award winner faces jail for telling Congress he did not use performance-enhancing drugs in the later years of his career.  Don’t know how the Roger Clemens case will turn out but fully disagree with the 9th Circuit holding that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional.

Clarifying Survivors Insurance Program

Over the past several weeks much fury has been expended on a possible instance of large insurance companies using funds meant for survivors of military members, making larger profits than they offer to those whose money they are holding.

As reported last week, Bloomberg Markets magazine reported on July 28 that Prudential Insurance Company, which administers the program for the VA, holds payments owed to the families of fallen soldiers in its general corporate account and instead deposits that money into its own general fund.

This week, the Vice Chairman of Prudential Financial Mark B. Grier briefed NAUS in our offices.  Grier clarified that the “checks” are in fact “drafts” the same as used by people who use credit union accounts to pay bills.  The Prudential Vice President showed NAUS President Matz and the legislative staff that the interest rate paid to beneficiaries under the account was at the high end of the range of interest paid by banks and credit unions.  He also presented copies of the materials given to survivors at the first meeting.  He agreed that the paperwork needs could be written more clear and understandable, and he promised to work with the VA to make that happen.

In a separate VA briefing attended by NAUS, VA’s Director of Life Insurance Programs Thomas Lastowka stated that the purpose of the accounts, which have been in use for over ten years, is to provide beneficiaries the ability to immediately access needed funds and earn interest until they have decided what to do with the funds over the long term.  He stated that VA is satisfied with how Prudential handles these accounts and although there will be an inquiry, he did not expect VA to demand many, if any, changes.

NAUS will continue to watch this matter closely to ensure the program benefits, as intended, the survivors of deceased military.   We will pursue legislation, if necessary, to see that survivors receive financial counseling and disclosure information regarding life insurance payments

Sound Off on Key Issues – Make Sure Your Voice is Heard

As Congress continues its Summer District Work Period, your elected representatives are in their home districts/States working out of local offices, holding town hall meetings and attending various public venues.  This is the ideal time for members to make contact with their elected officials and make their wishes known.

There is plenty of military and veterans-related legislation awaiting congressional attention including the defense authorization and appropriations bills.  Lets not forget that in the not too distant future lawmakers must again address the ever-important issue of TRICARE and Medicare reimbursement rates.  The action they took to address the issue in June was only temporary; it expires at the end of November.

Many NAUS members are likely concerned with the recent announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that he intends to seek higher premiums and fees for TRICARE programs next year.  Since the ultimate authority to increase rates rests with Congress, it’s a good subject to discuss with your representatives as well.  And as we look to November, let them know your vote is contingent upon their support.

Final decisions on unfinished legislation won’t take place until the summer break is over.  The House and Senate and House remain in recess until September 13.  Until then, we encourage NAUS members to take advantage of each and every opportunity to communicate with their elected officials on these important issues.


Early Prescription Refills Authorized for Parts of Missouri

A Public Health Emergency has been issued by the Secretary of Health & Human Services due to severe storms, flooding, and tornadoes in the Missouri counties of Adair, Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Caldwell, Carroll, Cass, Chariton, Clark, Clinton, Daviess, DeKalb, Gentry, Grundy, Harrison, Holt, Howard, Jackson, Lafayette, Lewis, Livingston, Mercer, Nodaway, Putnam, Ray, Schuyler, Scotland, Sullivan, and Worth.  Due to this issuance, TRICARE has implemented the Emergency Refill Too Soon Procedures which will remain in effect until Sept. 17, 2010.

Who is eligible for TRICARE benefits under the TAMP Program?

Members and their eligible family members who meet the criteria below are eligible for TRICARE benefits under the Transitional Assistance Management Program (TAMP):

  1. Members involuntarily separated from active duty.
  2. National Guard and Reserve members separated from active duty after being mobilized to active duty in support of a contingency operation.  The active duty period must be more than 30 days.
  3. Members separated from active duty after being involuntarily retained under Section 12305 (also referred to as “stop loss”) of Title 10, U.S.C., in support of a contingency operation.
  4. Members separated from active duty following a voluntary agreement to stay on active duty for less than one year in support of a contingency operation.
  5. A member who receives a sole survivorship discharge as defined in Section 1174 of Title 10, U.S.C.
  6. A member who is separated from active duty who agrees to become a member of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve of a reserve component.

If you think you may be eligible for TAMP, contact the Defense Manpower Data Center Support (DMDC) Office to check your eligibility status in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).  You may do this by going to your nearest uniformed services ID card facility or by calling DMDC toll-free at 1-800-538-9552.  To locate the nearest ID card facility, click here.


Crew Members Needed for USS Constitution

The Navy is currently seeking applications from enlisted personnel for duty aboard the USS Constitution.  Personnel with a projected rotation date of October 2010 through June 2011 are eligible.  Applications can be sent via e-mail to, by fax to (617) 242-2308, or by mail to USS Constitution, Command Master Chief, Building 5, Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown, MA 02129-1797.  For more information, visit the USS Constitution website or contact CMDCM(SW/SS/AW) David Twiford at (617) 242-2863

Air Force Transition Program

Airmen with plans to separate or retire are encouraged to participate in the Air Force Transition Assistance Program (TAP) to help them make informed decisions after active-duty service.  DoD officials partner with Department of Labor and VA officials to provide TAP workshops at installations worldwide.  Airman and Family Readiness Center officials also offer congressionally mandated pre-separation counseling.  For more information about TAP and other services available, contact your local Airman and Family Readiness Center.  Additional information on TAP benefits available to those affected by force management can be found on the Air Force Personnel Center personnel services page.

Corporals Course to Become Promotion Requirement for USMC

Beginning in FY 2012, attending a corporal’s course will be required before Marines can be promoted to sergeant.  Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway announced the upcoming change in All Marine Message 26/10.  Plans are in the works to create a nonresident version of the course so Marines who don’t have the opportunity to attend a command-sponsored course will still be eligible under the new requirements.

Coast Guard Academy Receives Top Marks

The Coast Guard Academy earned a perfect score of 100 and the top honor as the #1 regional college in the North based on the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges 2011 issue released earlier this week.  The academy was also recently named one of the best colleges in the nation to work for, for a second year in a row, by the Chronicle of Higher Education.  You can read the complete story by going to the Coast Guard Compass, the official blog of the US Coast Guard.


Special Hiring Event for Veterans

Several Federal Agencies have an urgent need to fill essential positions.  Veterans interested in continuing their service to America are encouraged to review open positions available now! Be sure to follow the specific instructions provided in the announcement no later than Aug. 24, 2010.  Additional information on the positions available can be found at this special link.

VA’s Home Loan Program Performing Well

According to a recent VA press release, mortgage loans guaranteed by the department continue to have the lowest rate for serious delinquency and foreclosures in the industry.  Currently, about 1.3 million active home loans have been obtained using VA’s Home Loan Guaranty Program.  The program makes home ownership more affordable for Veterans, active-duty service members, and eligible surviving spouses by permitting low or no down payment loans and by protecting lenders from loss if the borrower fails to repay the loan.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association National Delinquency Survey, VA’s foreclosure rate for the last eight quarters and serious delinquency rate for the last five consecutive quarters have been the lowest of all measured loan types, even prime loans.

Since 1944, when home-loan guaranties were first offered under the original GI Bill, VA has guaranteed more than 18.8 million home loans worth $1.06 trillion.

To obtain more information about the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program, Veterans can call VA at 1-877-827-3702.  Additional information can be obtained by visiting VA’s Home Loan Information page.


NAUS on the Road

On Friday August 27, NAUS Legislative Director Rick Jones will be the keynote speaker at the Hill AFB, Utah, Retiree Appreciation Day.  Come out and bring a friend.

Society of Military Widows (SMW) Convention

This year the SMW convention will be held in Lawton, OK, at the Best Western Convention Center (580-353-0200) 10-17 October.  The hotel is $80 per night for two people.  The registration is $125, which includes the Welcome Dinner, lunch at the Patriot Club, a tea/lunch, and the Banquet.  Extra guests for the banquet are $38.  There will be various tours offered every day and more than enough to keep you busy.  NAUS Director of Chapter Management Jack Chmielewski will conduct a workshop on Friday.  Checks are payable to the Society of Military Widows and should be mailed to:  Gladys Thomas, 1108 NW 52nd Street Lawton, OK 78505.

Get Yours in Our Annual “I Got Mine!” Member-Get-A-Member Campaign

Do you have a son or daughter serving or who has served in the military? A cousin? A sibling? A friend? A neighbor?  Invite them to join you as a member of NAUS to help protect their benefits.  For each new member you recruit during the 2010 I Got Mine! Member-get-a-Member Campaign, you’ll receive one entry into the prize drawing pool.  The more members you recruit, the more chances you have to win!  You could win prizes like a NAUS sweatshirt or the Grand Prize: a $500 Marriott gift card!  The campaign runs through Oct. 15, 2010.  For a complete list of prizes, campaign rules, application forms and other information to help you get yours, click here.

Church And State? What About Church and Pentagon?

Forty years ago I told one of my pals in the JAG office that Roe vs. Wade would be  worse than Vietnam when it comes to divisions in America. Was I close?

Coming Soon: Turning Military Facilities into Abortion Clinics?

August 23rd, 2010 by Americans United for Life Print This Article Print This Article ·// ShareThis

Every American opposed to taxpayer-funded abortion should be aware of a major legislative battle coming in September. When the Senate reconvenes, debate is expected to begin on this year’s Department of Defense (DOD) Authorization bill. Last May, when the Senate Armed Services Committee was putting this bill together, Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) added an amendment that would strike a provision in the U.S. Code that prohibits DOD medical personnel or facilities from performing abortions.

The Burris amendment would – simply put – turn U.S. military facilities into abortion clinics.

Advocates for the amendment argue that the change would not amount to taxpayer funding for abortion, but this is completely false. American taxpayers will be footing the bill for elective abortions by paying for these military facilities, additional equipment, and the use of needed military personnel to perform abortions. Further, more money may be used to search for, hire, and transport new personnel to perform those abortions. From 1993 to 1996, when President Clinton allowed abortions in military facilities, the administration had to seek out civilians to perform the abortions – all military physicians refused to perform or assist in elective abortions.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ), arguing on the floor of the Senate that “abortion now is going to be performed in military hospitals,” temporarily stopped this bill from moving forward. But this was only a delay and the Senator is preparing to lead this fight again in the fall. We expect at least one amendment to be offered on the Senate Floor to strike the Burris Amendment. We’ll keep you updated on this important issue. For more information, check out the website of our sister organization, AUL Action.

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.

Surprise The War Is Over!

While we slept peacefully last night  in  our cribs of freedom and prosperity, the last of the combat troops in Iraq cruised over the border into Kuwait; with papers of course, and unarmed. Much unlike our borders.

As I learned of this event by email tonight, I cannot help but think how odd it is that I was in the living room in California of my Sergeant from Vietnam, in March of 2003, as we witnessed the invasion of  Baghdad with the 3rd Infantry Division and the 7th Marines with whom we served. Neither one of us ever thought we would see a pre-emptive war again in our lifetime. Particularly one based on questionable data.  And here I am back in California with my pal, 7 1/2 years later watching the withdrawal of troops, leaving the people  of Iraq with questionable data. No question that Saddam had to go, but 13 Centuries of Suni domination morphed into a Shiite democracy, is assuredly questionable.  The 50,000 troops that are remaining coupled with some handsomely paid private contractors,(men with guns), will now fuel are 24/7 cable news for the next 7 years.

Officially, 440 troops of the Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division will be calling themselves the exit crew.  An exit that has a great deal more honor and record of accomplishment than is reported.  There are no helicopters being tossed overboard and no one fleeing Embassy compounds for safety. This is an ordered exit.  Is it a surprise? Well of course. Is it part of a grander plan? Well of course.

I think I now see why the National Security Advisor and former Commandant of the Marine Corps; General James Jones, got the job. This is a clear handing off of the baton from the Rumsfeld Department of Defense to the currently  finely tuned State Department who will now be charged with stabilizing this nation that is ruled by the Tower of Babel.

Community policing, and guiding a  judicial system is not the role of an Army. The very reason the Marine Corps balked at their continued use in Iraq and were shortly thereafter deployed to Afghanistan.

We stopped a civil war, maybe, we toppled a dictator, ooorah, and we have spent more training their cops than the entire nations  GDP. I do believe it is time to turn over the show to the locals.  Pray that the locals will stay, and that some of  the millions of middle class, highly educated Iraqi’s will return. If they can get visas. How is that for an American irony? Visas to get back in the county to be with their own families!  Let’s also hope that the thousands of interpreters, and third party contractor grunt labor; Phillipinos, Pakistanis, Indians, can safely be escorted out. Or? Remember the Vietnamese refugee boats?

We created the space and the opportunity for them to recreate their homeland. I do believe that was done by us.  But can the coalition governing body hold off Iran? The other irony, Saddam did that for us. Now they are flying solo.

In Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh was more than prepared to govern and had no one to hold at abeyance once we were gone.

For now, the grim news of  successes, that were like cotton candy, the cascade downward of American tolerance for war, ( not being attacked on our own turf is not a very enduring motive), and the domino effect of public opinion, can now take a rest as we focus on the “other” war in Afghanistan. And we wonder why there is no money to create jobs!

Will the Iraq people feel that we are abandoning them? No more than the unemployed American plumber.

Welcome home men and women of  faith and freedom. I hope we are ready for you.

Ecstasy And War Resistant PTSD

Combat veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and other theaters of war are set for some new excitement–Ecstasy! Retro man!

Recently the FDA has approved the use of Ecstasy, on a trial basis coupled with ongoing psychotherapy, for the treatment of resistant forms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Some say this experiment is a step forward in the treatment of PTSD.  Au contraire, says me and a handful of my combat veteran pals; all of whom experience chronic PTSD and have been beneficiaries of alternative treatment programs sans the pharmaceutical cafeteria.

The Denver VA appears to be the premiere location for the administration of this new zapping treatment.  The premise is that the conventional treatment regimens of anti-depressants, psychotherapy and support groups have expired their usefulness. I am not a scientist, but I had plenty of science course work in Nursing School to question both the leaps of logic and the lack of scrutiny with the variables involved with pills, psychologists and the people involved in the support groups. For brevity, lets call this the PPP approach to treatment.

I have something to say about the spiritual dimension of the wounded warrior, which is outside the parameters of drugs and Doc’s, but I will reserve that for last.

As for the variables, pills are  intended to ameliorate the symptoms of a condition so as to peel back the behavioral and bio-chemical roadblocks to our insight into the core causes of the initial imbalance. The pills are a means to an end, not the cure.

The current claim in the use of  Ecstasy is that the initial results are excellent.  So how long is “initial?” And do the families of the veterans report the same results?

Timothy Leary, Dr. Richard Alpert and Dr. Albert Hofman  reported some dramatic results with the use of  LSD in the early 60’s. The theory that you can re-boot the brain and create a clean slate with Ecstasy is identical to the hypothesis of the early apostles of  LSD. Its  proponents included the former OSS officer turned spy; Captain Afred Hubbard, the Johnny Appleseed of LSD, Richard Helms, CIA Director, Major General William Creasy, chief officer of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps,Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, chief of CIA Technical Service Staff who ran the ran the super secret MK-Ultra program in the 1950’s.  Much of the testing was conducted and financed by millionaire William Mellon Hithcock at the Millbrook Estate in New York. These men were of the ilk that you had to “blow your mind to know your mind.”  Essentially clearing the slate,(temporary amnesia), so that new programing could occur.  Ergo, the reason for its potential use in International espionage work.  These men also spoke of  the use of LSD for the cure of a myriad of brands of mental conditions.  The revolution and abuse of this drug that followed was not their intent.  Can history repeat itself with the use of Ecstasy?

There are tomes of documents to read about the use of mind altering chemicals by the Department of the Army and the CIA. My observations are of a different order as they relate they relate to the use of  powerful chemicals in treatment programs for our returning combatants. However there is clearly an uncanny and alarming similarity to the experiments with LSD  with our soldiers at the Presidio in the early 1970’s.

Back to the variables and the experimentation that is required to determine  the efficacy of any treatment program.  Keep in mind that experimentation and diligent examination of variables takes time. Time is money to the Veterans Administration. And drugs cost a ton of money,(except the ones from Canada). PTSD is diagnosed as a chronic condition, meaning the time line for the medications for a veteran could be decades. The motivation for a “zapper” drug is quite high. Just when some of the variables are being worked out for other drugs.

By example, the use of Prazosin, which once went by the name of Mini-Press and was marketed for high blood pressure, has now become one the vogue drugs of choice for the treatment of PTSD. It has been discovered to remedy many of the hyper-vigilant symptoms of PTSD and somehow abates the bizzaro dreams and nightmares embedded in the brain of the combat soldier. That took time–easily decades to come to that scientific conclusion, inclusive of longitudinal studies and reports back from the veteran community.  The VA does not have that kind of time in the budget, particularly when we remain to be the Star Wars protectorate of the galaxy.

We are an instant gratification nation, with low tolerance for pain, both  psychological and financial. The drive to find a “Lourdes” like cure for the ravages of war is at the genesis of the use of Ecstasy.  Its efficacy and value will soon be known, yet I suggest that we remain vigilant with a prejudice, as there is a truckload of social engineering occurring as we sleep. To many, a medicated America is a safe America. Look out Second Ammendmenter’s, your bullet casings may have an aerosol!

Note, that I said nothing about the potency of  Ecstasy. It may well be the elixir of day. I am just making a siren caveat emptor call to be reminded of the widespread availability of alternative treatment programs for PTSD that do not fall in the zapper column and whose efficacy is known. They are not driven or guided by the Pharmaceutical industry. Watch closely the stock in the manufacturer of Ecstasy. With our luck the Chinese will buy the company!  Headline; China has cure for American Soldiers.

But my final musing is about the true nature of PTSD. It is first and foremost a violation of the soul. The bio-chemical stuff is secondary.

“We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are”  Talmud

War at its root is an agent of negation. Our bodies and minds as warriors are the primary weapons of mass destruction. They need to be to survive. I was once one of those lean, mean, killing machines perfectly honed to warrior perfection by the Marine Corps. There is some conflicting Catholic guilt in the admission that I liked it, as I was always in the service of God, Country and Corps. However, when the show is over, the reconciling of love and death is a daily chore and a balancing act that takes decades of practice.

War remains encased in the barbed wire heart for many a moon.  War enslaves your imagination,(the Soul),  in a bunker that no pill can penetrate.  It is our soul that seeks love and intimacy. It is my body that was trained to kill. They need to re-unite. No pill can accomplish this. No pill can touch the heartstrings like some of the Native American rituals that know well the travels of the soul. Curiously, the VA uses many of the ceremonies of the Lakota Sioux in their treatment programs.

The Natives knew well that the terror of war makes the soul flee from the body. It is too dangerous to stay, so the soul leaves and gets stuck somewhere. I am not so sure that Ecstasy is the agent of the reunification of the soul and the body.

So, before trying the snap, crackle, pop of Ecstasy, I would suggest reversing the order of your existential triage.  Try some of the Retreat programs first. Many are free.

Plato spoke of soul as the seat of imagination. Attend a Retreat tailored for combat veterans and let your imagination run wild with fellow veterans. There is a high probability that you will experience your soul hopping back in your body, in the safe and secure environment of combat weary veterans. The validation of this collective experience exceeds any session with a non-combat psychologist or intern; (one of the variables).

To me, ecstasy, is the gut level laughing, crying and pain releasing roaring of battle buddies gathered together for the “soul” purpose of transcending our war.

I am not so sure that God wants us to forget war. What would that soul look like?

Resource:  Merritt Center Veteran Program/ Basic Training For Life

Merritt Retreat Center. Payson, Az.  800-414-9880– 928-474-4268

POW/MIA Issues Still Haunt US

I am often asked why I keep the POW/MIA sticker on the passenger van I use to transport disabled veterans. I, in turn ask, “why would anyone use the word, ‘keep?” Does that not connote that somehow the topic is old and dated. It is not.

I then remind all that the POW/MIA flag is the only flag allowed to fly beneath the American flag.  Might that say something?

I still carry the bracelet of a downed pilot in Vietnam. Lt Curran/USMC

How many POW/ MIA’s are there currently in Iraq and Afghanistan? If you do not know, then you know why the issue is timely and compelling.

Remains of U.S. Army helicopter pilot from Billings found in Vietnam

Remains of U.S. Army helicopter pilot from Billings found in Vietnam JAN FALSTAD Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette | Posted: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 2:14 pm | (39) Comment

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U.S. Army 1st Lt. Paul G. Magers (Courtesy photo)

The remains of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Paul G. Magers of Billings and his gunner from Oklahoma, missing for almost four decades after their helicopter was shot down during the Vietnam War, have been positively identified and are being returned to their families.

Magers, who lettered in track and wrestling at Billings Central Catholic High School, was killed in action in 1971 in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, while flying an AH-1 Cobra. Also killed was Chief Warrant Officer 2 Donald L. Wann of Shawnee, Okla.

Fred Magers of Billings, the oldest of six children, said his brother graduated from Central High in 1963, finished college at Regis College, a Jesuit Catholic school in Denver, and planned on attending medical school. Magers was married in 1969 to Beverly Mohatt of Sidney, Neb., and he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Attending officer training school at Fort Benning, Ga., Magers graduated in the top 10 percent of his class to qualify as an aviator, his brother said.

“He didn’t necessarily want to be a pilot, but that, too, was tough and he liked that,” Fred Magers said. “If it wasn’t tough, it wasn’t worth doing.”

His brother had been in Vietnam less than two weeks when he flew his last mission, Fred Magers said.

On June 1, 1971, Magers and Wann were flying their Cobra during an emergency rescue of an Army Ranger team in Quang Tri, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. After the Rangers were picked up and delivered to safety, the Cobra was ordered to destroy claymore mines that had been left behind in the landing zone. During this mission, ground fire hit Magers’ helicopter, which crashed and exploded. Then the Cobra’s ordnance detonated, tearing the aircraft apart. Pilots who witnessed the explosions said no one could have survived, according to the Defense Department. A ground search was impossible because of enemy soldiers in the area.

The first leads to finding and identifying the airmen came in 1990. Search teams from the U.S and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam surveyed the suspected crash site in 1993 and 1998. Excavation started the following year, but stopped because of bad weather. Then the Vietnamese government, citing security concerns, banned U.S. personnel from Quang Tri Province.

In 2008, artifacts and some human remains were recovered by a Vietnamese team. More remains were found the next year.

Maj. Tim Crowe, public affairs chief for the Montana Army National Guard, said the two men were identified by teams who specialize in returning the remains of military personnel.

“We do everything we can to bring MIA soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines back home,” Crowe said.

The remains of Magers and Wann were identified in March. The Magers family learned of the positive ID of Paul Magers in June, about the time they got their usual yearly update on his status. A U.S. Army officer formally briefed the family in mid-July and the news that Magers and Wann had been found was released Wednesday. The complexity of the process caused the four-month lag, Crowe said.

“These cases are within a pretty formal investigation cycle, so there are a lot of details to do to get this together,” he said. “As you can imagine, they want to get this right.”

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said he is pleased that Lt. Magers is being returned home with dignity and he extended condolences to the family.

“He will be laid to rest with honor and respect,” Tester said.

The Magers family moved from Denver to Billings in 1958, said Fred Magers, who does custom framing at his Billings business, Framing by Fred.

“He (Paul) would deliver The Gazette in the morning. Then when the ditch was dry he and another fellow or two, whoever he could find, would run the ditch,” Fred Magers said. “You know how hard it is to run in wet sand? It’s tough.”

But his playful side led Paul to endlessly tease and play with his nieces and nephews. And that is the spirit his family wants to see at his funeral. Well-wishers should bring smiles and dress in 1960s and ’70s clothes, including paisley, Fred Magers said.

“This is a joyous occasion and if anybody at the services comes wearing somber colors, Mom might just cuss them out and at 92, she has earned the right to do this,” he said.

Both men will be buried with full military honors. Wann’s burial will be Aug. 21 in Fort Gibson, Okla.

A vigil for Magers will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 26 at Dahl Funeral Home in Billings. Funeral services are planned for at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 27, at Holy Rosary Church in Billings. Then Magers will be buried at the Yellowstone County Veterans Cemetery in Laurel.

Contact Jan Falstad at or 657-1306.

Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans Transitioning Home From War

When Johnny and Joan come marching home to their beloved United States of  America after service in Iraq and Afghanistan, are we prepared?

Very soon tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airman and marines will be rotating to their hometowns. They will be physically rotating home but their battle minds may be lagging behind a bit. Are we prepared?

Some of us crusty Vietnam vets recall the days when, “Peace With Honor,” was  being implemented and our troops started rotating home in large numbers.  The transition to civilian life  was not the joy filled experience that many anticipated.. Given, the times have changed radically.  I believe the operative word here would be respect.  There is no question about the notable respect we have for our troops and the zeitgeist of  gratitude that fills the air. We have learned much from the tumultuous 60’s and 70″s.  The most salient of all learning being the ability to separate the war from the warrior.  But can the warrior do that? And, I say again, our we prepared to help them in that separation of parallel lives they will  lead for at least a year or two?

The times are no less adverse and probably more so in the polarization of  political  positions. Are we prepared to submerge our intractable penchant to have opinions when in the company of a soldier who may just want to be left alone?  Can Americans shut up long enough to be a bridge of support for these returning troops?

“Think where man’s glory begins and ends, And say, “My glory was I had such friends.”                      -William Yeats

Many of these soldiers will be looking for work, many will not find work.  Are we willing to be at their side while they struggle? The unemployment statistics for OEF/OIF veterans are not good.  Add them to the ranks of the currently unemployed and we have a cinder box,  not unlike 1973.

Where are the bridges? Who are the bridge people?  Maybe Tucson could have the first and finest program in the nation for training bridge people to welcome these men and women back into polite society.  Platoons of caring people trained at all the libraries in the city, with long office hours, even night shift workers, ready to listen and help.

“When you’re weary, feeling small/ When tears are in your eyes/I will dry them all/ I’m on your side/ When times get rough/And friends just can’t be found/ Like a bridge over troubled water/ I will lay me down.      -Paul Simon

I challenge Tucsonans and the leadership to the task of making Tucson, Arizona one of the friendliest places in the nation to return home from war.  I declare that Tucson is a Bridge City.

Beware Dear Veterans Of Those Who Come To Help

Veteran Advocacy often entails some vigilance.  This story just burns me, as I know of other Out Reach Programs that have been in existence since right after the invasion of Iraq that have left the radar screen under the smallest amount of scrutiny. I am not inclined to name them as even bloggers can be sued for not fully corroborating evidence. I am happy to give an educated observation however, but only privately. Intuition alone can guide many donors. Yet, so many unsuspecting good souls have their heartstrings tapped in the name and honor of our soldiers. It is hard to imagine how one sleeps at night who engages in such fraudulent behavior. It seems to me they should be drafted to clean the honey pots for our warriors.
God bless Vietnam Veterans of America for alerting us.

To All:
For your information!
Bill Meeks, Jr.
Chair, VVA Membership Affairs
Sent: Saturday, July 31, 2010 7:42 PM
To: Undisclosed-Recipient:;
Subject: The United States Fallen Heroes Foundation

Got this from LtGen, USAF (retired) Brett Dula
Subject: The United States Fallen Heroes Foundation

Begin forwarded message:

I just wanted to let you know about something that I’ve been working on for a few months that is finally coming out.  This group, The United States Fallen Hero Foundation, is a complete fraud.  They’ve been using the families of our fallen brothers and sisters to raise money for a phony Memorial that was to be built in Texas .  The PR firm they hired approached me to set up a meeting with me and Jan to get our advice on building a National Memorial, but things seemed fishy from the start.  The PR firm later became suspicious of the founders activities and came back to me again for advice on how to proceed.  We notified the Texas Attorney General and the FBI, but did not want to go public until we were sure.  They have contacted thousands of families who have gotten very excited about this project and we didn’t want to risk hurting them until we were positive this guy was a dirt bag.  Well, the Attorney General’s subpoena tipped of a Dallas TV reporter and he asked to have an exclusive.  His story aired last night.  I’m not sure if you guys want to do anything to actively warn people, but I just wanted to let you know about it.  His website is still up and he’s still raising money.  He’s claimed to have raised over $2 million.

Here is the Story.  Just let me know if you want any more detail.

I have also informed the leadership of American Legion, VFW, and IAVA.

Unanswered questions about plans for military memorial


Posted on July 27, 2010 at 10:38 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 28 at 8:42 PM



KENNEDALE — Questions are swirling around a $50 million project in Kennedale to honor veterans who have died since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The Texas Attorney General is looking into documentation behind the United States Fallen Heroes Foundation.

  • What exactly is the United States Fallen Heroes Foundation?
  • Why does its founder use two names?
  • And is it a tax-exempt organization?

The memorial project was introduced to the public during a slick presentation at a news conference two months ago. An animation showed 15 acres of land in Kennedale that would be the site of a memorial. A Web site honoring veterans was set up, and TV spots in which families of vets were used to solicit money.

“This memorial will also include all military personnel that have died post-9/11 and have died as a result of combat and non-combat injuries and trauma,” said Walter Coleman, who said he was chairman of the U.S. Fallen Heroes Foundation.

But while Coleman was happy to be on TV to raise money then, he canceled two appointments with News 8 to discuss the organization. When he finally did show up, he would not let us record an interview.

“I’ll be interviewed, but not on camera,” he said.

Coleman did not want to be interviewed about his application to the IRS for tax-exempt status. The IRS has no record of the the U.S. Fallen Heroes Foundation.

News 8 discovered Coleman signs documents with two signatures and two names: “Evan Coleman” and “Walter Coleman.”

“I’m both,” he said when asked about the dual identity. “I’m Walter Raleigh Evan Coleman Jr.”

He said his use of one name of the other “depends on the documents.”

Records indicate that Coleman used “Walter” as a first name after a credit union sued him for $10,000 in debt under the name of “Evan Coleman.

Another question surrounds Coleman’s military record. Kennedale City Manager Bob Hart is one of several people who say Coleman represented himself as a veteran.

“My impression is that he would have served in Vietnam, because he’s made comments in that regard,” Hart said.

But when pressed, Coleman told News 8 he was never in the military.

He runs the Fallen Heroes Foundation from his home in Mansfield, which until recently was also the home of the Texas/Louisiana Fallen Heroes Foundation.

Although Coleman has given documents to the City of Kennedale which include a non-existent employer identification number, or EIN, Coleman passes it off as an innocent error.

In Kennedale, construction crews are already working on a new road that would have gone by the memorial. The City of Kennedale says it will now investigate the background of the Fallen Heroes Foundation.

The city has signed a contract to sell 15 acres of land to the foundation, but Hart says Kennedale has not lost any money in the deal. “They’ve signed the contract, yes. But the contract allows for an 18-month window in which to raise funds to acquire the land,” Hart said.

The Texas Attorney General has asked the Fallen Heroes Foundation for all of their records.

The man who says he is “Walter Raleigh Evan Coleman Jr.” says he has only collected $1,000 for his $50 million project. But he’s the only one who knows the real total.

This article was in the Fort Worth Star Telegram this morning. It is about the supposedly scam that I previously sent out

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