Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Suicides, wait times, parades, Tim McGraw (veterans issues)

Kasie Hunt (AP) reports GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will speak to the American Legion in Indianapolis today, face-to-face, while appearing at the Republican National Convention in Tampa via satellite to take part in a discussion of veterans' issues with Senator John McCain.  No offense to McCain but if they were going to put a Republican onstage to discuss veterans issues, it probably should have been Senator Richard Burr who is the Ranking Member on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and who could rightly speak of and take pride in the recent Camp Lejeune legislation Honoring America's Veterans And Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.  If the Demcorats have any brains, they'll put Senator Patty Murray onstage to discuss veterans issues at the DNC -- Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  And a really smart convention -- which we can't have in the US apparently -- would put Murray and Burr onstage side-by-side to speak of the need for everyone to work together on veterans issues (which is the way the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee works).

From what should happen, to some things that are scheduled.   Sherry Mitchell (Hendersonville Star News) reports that Henderson, TN is holding a bass fishing tournament on September 15th and "[a]ll the proceeds from the tournament will be used to support veterans, returning military and their families."  Vietnam Veterans for America has (PDF format warning) the rules and entry form hereSabrina Wu (Patch) reports on the Walk All Our Soldiers Home parade planned for September 22nd in Darien, Illinois.  The Darien Chamber of Commerce notes that the "parade will honor our local military heroes.  Community involvement will be the cornerstrone of the event and we have invited all Darien families to participate in supporting the event by gathering pledges for marching in the parade.  A post parade fun celebration will be held at Darien Community Park." Meanwhile antiMusic notes  country music artist "Tim McGraw just wrapped his HomeFront program this past weekend in Boston, capping off a summer long campaign to award mortgage-free homes to veterans in need at each stop of his summer tour."  At the start of his tour last spring, Tim McGraw announced he'd present a veteran with mortgage-free home on each of his tour's 25 stops.  ABC News Radio reports he kept that promise and states, "Each family had touching stories and made an indelible mark on me.  From the Delucia family's amazing story of recovery and strength through physical injuries the first night in Tampa to the Connor family, who we suprised this past weekend at their new home with a puppy for their daughter Molly. . . I will never foget any of them."  The Call notes the homes were "part of a three-way partnership to recognize the sacrifices of military veterans involving McGraw, Chase Bank and San Antonio, Texas-based Operation Homefront, a non-profit program that provides mortgage-free homes to wounded soldiers. "  Country music artist Faith Hill joins her husband Tim  from December through April when the two of them headline at the Venetian  in Las Vegas.


 The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead notes Suicide Prevention Month is next month and among the events in North Dakota:

Resource fair, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Sept. 10. Programs will include caregiver support, health care for homeless veterans, female veterans, health promotion, disease prevention, minority veterans, suicide prevention and more.• Sept. 9, First Link Walk of Hope for Suicide Awareness and Remembrance, Fargo Civic Center courtyard, 207 4th St. N. Registration begins at 1:30 p.m. For more information, call (701) 293-6462 or email
• Sept. 23, Out of the Darkness Fargo-Moorhead Community Walk, Lindenwood Park, Fargo. Registration begins at 1 p.m. and the walk begins at 2 p.m. To register or for more information, visit

And Out of the Darkness notes:

In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 15 minutes, claiming more than 36,000 lives each year. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute, with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 18-65, the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and individuals ages 65 and older account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths. This is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. Walk to save lives, find an event near you and register today!

Lonny Shavelson (Center for Investigave Reporting -- link is text and video) speaks to Iraq War veteran, Marine Cpl David Smith:

Smith: When I got out of the Marine Corps, I chalked everything that I was feeling up to just being normal. And I met a friend, and he happened to be a Marine. And we just kind of started talking about Iraq and stuff like that, and he could tell that I had some things that I was dealing with.
[On-screen text: That friend was Clay Hunt.]
[He also was waiting for disability benefits.]
Smith: He was the first person who I’d ever really talked to about Iraq, about, you know, some of the more tragic events or some of the more frightening things that happened.
The only way that it was going to happen is if another veteran came and got me and said, “Hey, I’ve been there, too, and I know what you’re going through.”
Clay was just an amazing dude, but definitely had some other issues that he was dealing with. We became extremely good friends. We’d literally go mountain biking, like, every single weekend – I guess try and clear our heads a little bit.
In March, 31st, I was asleep and my girlfriend came in, and she said, “Clay killed himself.”
Clay? My Clay?
It’s just kind of wild. Clay was also working on getting a claim through the VA. It’s kind of ironic – I think it was a week or two after he passed that, you know, his approved disability rating showed up at his house.
From the time that I applied for disability to the time that my disability was finalized, it was 414 days.

Access to medical care -- and timely medical care -- is an important issue for veterans.  Karen Jeffrey (Cape Cod Online) reports:

Veterans on Martha's Vineyard are one step closer to having local medical services restored -- services that will enable them to get treated on the island rather than having to travel to the Providence VA Medical Center in Rhode Island.
U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-Mass., announced this week that a contract for veterans services on Martha's Vineyard has cleared one major hurdle: approval by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The contract must now be approved by the Providence VA Medical Center and Martha's Vineyard Hospital, where many of the services would be provided.

Over the weekend, Iraq War veteran Joshua Casteel passed away and IVAW's Jose Vasquez noted, "Joshua believed his illness was a result of his service in Iraq where he was exposed to the toxic fumes from burn pits and had submitted a compensation claim with the Veterans Administration." Across the country, hundreds of thousands of veterans -- nearly one million per the numbers the VA provided to Congress in July -- are waiting for their claims adjudicated.   Aaron Glantz (Center for Investigative Reporting via the San Diego Union-Tribune) reports:

California veterans who file with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for a war-related disability claim are waiting more than nine months on average for a decision, according to a review of VA data.
The review by the Center for Investigative Reporting found that San Diego performs better than the state’s other two regional offices in terms of pending claims that have languished longer than the agency goal of 125 days.
In San Diego, the rate of such delayed cases is 66 percent, compared to 94 percent in Oakland and 96 percent in Los Angeles. San Diego claimants are waiting 291 days on average, compared to 363 days in Los Angeles and 346 in Oakland.

The following community sites -- plus Adam Kokesh, IVAW, The Diane Rehm Show, Susan's On The Edge, Pacifica Evening News, CSPAN and --  updated last night and this morning:

The e-mail address for this site is