Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The fallen, veterans issues

Sunday the US military announced 2 service members in Iraq had died and Monday they announced a third had died. The Defense Department has identified two of the three. "Sgt. Jorge A. Scatliffe, 32, of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, died April 3 in a non-combat related incident at Mosul, Iraq. He was assigned to the 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas." "Capt. Wesley J. Hinkley, 36, of Carlisle, Pa., died April 4 in Baghdad, Iraq, as a result of a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, Fort Stewart, Ga."

Meanwhile Winston Skinner (Times-Herald) reports on the dedication ceremony to rename the Tyrone, Georgia post office after Lt Robert Wilson Collins who was killed in a Mosul bombing April 7, 2010. His mother, retired Lt Sharon Collins, and his father, retired Lt Deacon Collins, were both present for the ceremony as were the state's two US senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, and US House Rep Lynn Westmoreland. Chambliss was the one who started the process to have the post office named after Robert Collins and the US congress approved the measure at the end of last year.

In Florida, Steve Nichols (Fox 13) reports there was a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday for Clearwater's Homeless Emergency Project's newest building: "[Bruce] Fyfe said the new building is designed for a new generation of homeless veterans. The women will be provided private bedrooms for privacy and security but will share kitchens, living rooms and a clubhouse." Keyonna Summers (St. Petersburg Times) adds that the facilities will serve women and men and notes, "Sadness that the driving force behind the project was the death of Fyfe's son Brendan, a former U.S. Marine. Melancholy that, despite Fyfe's repeated efforts, he wasn't able to save Brendan, whose severe post-traumatic stress disorder from three tours in Iraq blossomed into alcohol and drug addiction. On Dec. 19, 2009, two years after an honorable military discharge, Brendan, 24, died homeless and alone in a Massachusetts motel room of a heroin overdose."

On the topic of PTSD, The NewsHour (PBS) reports online (link is text and video) about Iraq War veteran Chris Goehner who manages his PTSD with the help of his "Labrador-Retriever mix service dog named Pele."

A visitor e-mailed about yesterday's snapshot, noted that US House Rep Niki Tsongas was her representative and asked if we could note her remarks from last week's hearing on Don't Ask, Don't Tell again.

US House Rep Niki Tsongas: But just to reiterate why we moved to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Since 1993, more than 14,000 gay service members have been discharged under the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. And of these discharges, nearly 1,000 were specialists with vital mission critical skills -- Arab linguists, for example. We hear those figures over and over again. I have always believed that this policy actually threatens the readiness of our military by discharging hundreds of military personnel critical to our national security and shutting the door to thousands more. And it's also unconscionable to maintain a policy when at least 24 other countries including allies such as Great Britain, Australia, Canada and Israel already allow open service by lesbian and gay service members. And that's why I've always strongly supported repeal of this policy. And I concur wholeheartedly with Adm Mike Mullen's distinguished leadership about this issue, his assessment when he stated in his testimony before the Armed Services Committee last year that this policy "forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens." Undermining a basic tenet of military service which is to be honest.

Will we be noting the hearing this week? Yes, that is the plan. This was held over, as noted in yesterday's snapshot, because it took place on Friday and the emphasis that day wa son the protests in Iraq -- which are getting so little coverage. The earliest it could have popped up (unless I carried it to Third) was in Monday's snapshot but I didn't have room and didn't think I would. There was a hearing (on VA facilities) yesterday that I attended. It was addressed in the snapshot but then I scrapped it when the news came out about the decision in Andre Shepherd's request for refugee status.

The following community sites -- plus and War News Radio -- updated last night:

Reminder: If you served in the US military and you were stop-lossed, you are owed additional money. That money needs to be claimed. DoD announces the date to file for that additional payment has been extended:

The deadline for eligible service members, veterans and their beneficiaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) has been extended to April 8, 2011, allowing personnel more time to apply for the benefits they've earned under the program guidelines.
The deadline extension is included in the continuing resolution signed by President Obama Friday, providing funding for federal government operations through April 8, 2011.
Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay was established to compensate for the hardships military members encountered when their service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss Authority between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. Eligible members or their beneficiaries may submit a claim to their respective military service in order to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in a Stop Loss status.
When RSLSP began on Oct. 21, 2009, the services estimated 145,000 service members, veterans and beneficiaries were eligible for this benefit. Because the majority of those eligible had separated from the military, the services have engaged in extensive and persistent outreach efforts to reach them and remind them to apply. Outreach efforts including direct mail, engaging military and veteran service organizations, social networks and media outlets, will continue through April 8, 2011.
To apply for more information, or to gather more information on RSLSP, including submission requirements and service-specific links, go to

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