Saturday, April 28, 2012

Veterans events, PTSD and lawsuits

Judy Peterson (Mercury News) reports on an upcoming event in Campbell, California:

Hot rods, a barbecue and other "fun in the sun" activities are in the works as American Legion Post 99 swings into spring with its first "Rockin' Rods Car Show & BBQ" that's scheduled for May 12 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The post is at 1344 Dell Ave. in Campbell and has more than 300 members representing veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The car show and barbecue are open to everyone and admission is free. Don't forget your wallet, however, because the vets will be passing around a combat boot, looking for donations to help fund programs and events it sponsors at the Veterans Hospital in Menlo Park.

Before that event, there's one Tuesday.  Iraq War veteran Jason Moon will take part in a fundraiser for Soldier's Heart at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 246 S. Church St., Grass Valley, California.  The event, which kicks off at 6:00 pm,  is open to the public and free but there is a suggested donation rate of $10.
The things that I have done that I regret
The things I seen, I won't forget
For this life and so many more
And I'm trying to find my way home
Child inside me is long dead and gone
Somewhere between lost and alone
Trying to find my way home
-- "Trying To Find My Way Home," written by Jason Moon, from Moon's latest album Trying To Find My Way Home

Staying on veterans but moving to disabled veterans, Mary E. O'Leary (Register Citizen) reports on the case of 18-year veteran Carmen Cardona who has been attempting to get spousal benefits since 2010 but has been denied because she is legally married to a woman.  Filing friend of the court briefs on behalf of the veteran is both Vietnam Veterans of America and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  Also having a stake in the outcome is the state of Connecticut, where Cardona was married, which argues it's "a constitutional issue, citing the 10th amendment as protecting its right as a stae to determine who can legally marry". LGBTQ Nation quotes Service Women's Action Network's Anu Bhagwati who states, "Service women were disproportionately impacted under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and it is disheartening to see women still experiencing systematic discrimination even after repeal.  The Cardona case illustrates that there is still tremendous work to be done to end discrimination against LGBT service members and veterans."

Turning to mental health issues, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America released a statement Wednesday regarding the VA:

CONTACT: Michelle McCarthy (212) 982-9699 or

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
CONTACT: Michelle McCarthy, (212) 982-9699 or

Follow IAVA on

IAVA Demands Accountability As VA Underreports Mental Health Care Delays
President, VA Secretary Shinseki Silent as Inspector General reports VHA Mental Health Records had “No Real Value” in Tracking Care for Injured Veterans

NEW YORK—Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation’s first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, released the following statement expressing outrage over an alarming new report from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Inspector General. The report concluded that veterans’ wait times for mental health care far exceed that which the VA has previously reported and the VA’s mandates. According to the Inspector General’s findings, for veterans who did not receive evaluations within 14 days, the average wait for a first evaluation was 50 days—nearly two months. Additionally, 71% of frontline mental health staffers said in an informal VHA survey that in their opinion their facilities did not have adequate mental health staff to meet current demand for care.“This Inspector General’s report should outrage all Americans. Only 49 percent of veterans received a full evaluation within 14 days of their first contact for mental health care—despite VA claims that rate was 95 percent. It shows the entire country how broken the VA mental health care system is when the Inspector General calls the VA’s own data of “no real value.” Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and veterans of all generations deserve straight talk from VA Secretary Shinseki on this misrepresentation. The VA is failing to meet its own mandates, and leaving too many veterans’ lives hanging in the balance. For example, veterans have to wait 19 days on average for appointments to see a psychiatrist in Denver, but as many as 80 days at the Spokane VA. If you had a chest wound or broken leg, you wouldn’t have to wait that long to see a doctor. As suicide rates skyrocket, the same standards of attention and care should apply to veterans seeking help for invisible wounds,” said IAVA Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff.
“Right now, the VA is facing a serious gap in trust and leadership. Our veterans deserve accountability from the top down. Only half of IAVA members recently surveyed think that the VA is doing a good job of reaching out to troops and veterans about mental health injuries and care. We hear frequently from IAVA members across social media about the bureaucratic delays that they face—and how they’re just giving up. Meanwhile, VA Secretary Shinseki has yet to come forward to publicly address this crisis of confidence. It’s absolutely critical that he and VA leadership work quickly and effectively to rebuild this trust. But IAVA can’t be the only loud voice on this issue, and our community needs to see bold action and accountability from the President too. All veterans deserve a dynamic 21st century VA system that is responsive to their needs from the day they get home from war through the rest of their lives. IAVA stands ready to work with the President, Department of Veterans Affairs and Congress to make this an immediate reality, so veterans of all generations get the care they need and deserve.”
In March 2012, IAVA unveiled a new partnership with the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255) to provide more IAVA members with free, immediate confidential crisis support 24/7 in their toughest moments of need. For more on IAVA’s VCL partnership and complete analysis on the Inspector General’s recommendations for improving VA mental health care access, click here.
To arrange an interview with IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff, Deputy Policy Director Tom Tarantino, or an IAVA Member Veteran impacted by delays at the Department of Veterans Affairs, please contact Michelle McCarthy, 212.982.9699,
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the country's first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 200,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Its mission is to improve the lives of this country's newest generation of veterans and their families.


 That was released Wednesday (only e-mailed to the public account late Friday or it would have been included earlier this week).  That day the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on the issue.  For coverage on it, Kat offered her take and conclusions in "Fire everyone at the VA,"    Ava covered it at  Trina's site with "Scott Brown: It's clearly not working (Ava),"  Wally covered it at  Rebecca's site with "VA paid out nearly $200 million in bonuses last year (Wally)"and the Wednesday's snapshot. and Friday snapshot cover it.  PTSD comes in many varieties -- from mild to extreme.  Studies demonstrate that those who treat PTSD have fewer problems with it.  There are many ways to treat PTSD and what works for one person may not work for all.  A number of veterans with PTSD are assisted by trained dogs.  Ginger Livingston (Daily Reflector) reports on one case:

Army medic Ryan Russell died in 2007 while aiding wounded soldiers in Iraq.Now his namesake will spend his life helping a former medic heal from the psychic wounds he suffered in Iraq.
Doc Russell, an 11-month-old golden retriever, is a psychiatric service dog. Doc lives with Ray Kirby, a Lexington man who served in Iraq in 2003. Doc stays at Kirby’s side, nuzzling him when Kirby starts suffering anxiety attacks, barking and licking his hand when nightmares take over Kirby’s sleep.
Doc’s job is to give Kirby a sense of peace and normalcy.

April Hill (KRMG) reports on veterans with PTSD in Oklahoma -- link is brief text but mainly an audio report.

The following community sites updated last night and today:

Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office notes:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Murray Press Office
Friday, April 27, 2012 (202) 224-2834
Chairman Murray Applauds President’s Decision to Address GI Bill Accountability
Executive Order mirrors Murray’s GI Bill Consumer Awareness Act of 2012 that gives veterans access to information to make informed decisions about utilizing GI Bill benefits
(Washington D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, released the following statement today after President Obama signed an executive order that takes action against deceptive practices targeting educational benefits for servicemembers and veterans. Senator Murray recently introduced similar legislation that increases transparency in order to help VA educational beneficiaries make informed decisions about the schools they attend so they get the most out of their GI Bill benefits. The bill would also require that VA and DoD to develop a joint policy to curb aggressive recruiting and misleading marketing aimed at servicemembers and veterans using the GI Bill.
“I’m pleased that the President is moving aggressively to help us give servicemembers and veterans the tools they need to make good decisions about utilizing the GI Bill benefit. Given the sad truth that there are those looking to take advantage of our student-veterans, it’s critical that we give our servicemembers and veterans the resources they need to make decisions that will ultimately affect the quality of the education they receive and the jobs they get after graduation. I look forward to working with the President to ensure that our student-veterans can realize the full promise of the GI Bill Benefit.”
NY Times Editorial on Chairman Murray’s bill: A Good Education With the G.I. Bill
Matt McAlvanah
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct

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