American Veteran News 05.31.16

AIR FORCE CAPTAIN WHO SACRIFICED LIFE FOR FELLOW TROOPS TO RECEIVE SILVER STAR — ARMY TIMES — It was about 1 a.m., Aug. 26, 2015. Special Tactics Officer Capt. Matthew Roland was behind the wheel of a small bus, leading a convoy of special forces personnel back to a small camp in Helmand province, Afghanistan, when he stopped 20 meters from an Afghan-run checkpoint along the road.

As the bus idled, the troops’ interpreter got out and started talking to two guards at the checkpoint wearing Afghan National Defense and Security Forces uniforms. After giving the convoy permission to pass, one guard moved toward a bunker fortified with a belt-fed M240B machine gun.

The other guard approached Roland’s door. When the guard was within five feet, he started to raise his M4 rifle to his shoulder.

Roland knew exactly what was happening. He keyed the radio.

“Insider attack! Insider attack!” he shouted to his comrades as he threw the gearshift in reverse.

VETERAN RACES AGAINST TIME TO RETURN WWI PURPLE HEARTS — BREITBART — ST. ALBANS, Vt. (AP) — A group that seeks to reunite lost Purple Hearts with service members or their descendants is embarking on an ambitious project: to return 100 such medals or certificates earned in World War I before the 100th anniversary next April of the United States’ entry into the conflict.

Zachariah Fike, of the Vermont-based Purple Hearts Reunited, began the project after noticing he had in his collection of memorabilia a total of exactly 100 Purple Hearts or equivalent lithographs awarded for injuries or deaths from the Great War.

“You’re honoring fallen heroes,” said Fike, a Vermont National Guard captain wounded in Afghanistan in 2010. “These are our forefathers; these are the guys that have shed their blood or sacrificed their lives for us. Any opportunity to bring light to that is always a good thing.”

The lithographs, known as a Lady Columbia Wound Certificate and showing a toga-wearing woman knighting an infantry soldier on bended knee, were what World War I military members wounded or killed while serving were awarded before the Purple Heart came into being in 1932. World War I service members who already had a lithograph became eligible for a Purple Heart at that time.

ALTERNATE PTSD THERAPY FOR VETS RUFFLES VA FEATHERS, BUT GETS RESULTS — S&S — Even before she left for Afghanistan, Katie Helmer knew she was going to have trouble when she got back.

As a member of the Minnesota National Guard, she was assigned to monitor casualties at a military hospital at Bagram Airfield. From a previous deployment in Kuwait, Helmer knew the psychic toll the ordeal would take on her.

When she came home in 2013, she jumped at the chance to get free treatment for post-traumatic stress through a pilot program for a therapy called EMDR, which uses sensory stimulation to connect to triggers from trauma and neutralizes them. After several sessions, she said it worked.

“I’ve never been a therapy type of person, but it worked because it was a different kind of therapy, and I didn’t have to do too much of the talking,” Helmer said.

PHOENIX VA SUPERVISOR WHO RAN SECRET WAIT LIST CAUGHT DENYING APPOINTMENTS TO VETS — DC — A Phoenix VA supervisor, who managed the secret wait list in 2014 where dozens of vets died, was caught denying specialty care appointment referrals to veterans in a petty power play.

Pauline DeWenter, supervisory medical administration specialist, fired off an email May 20 telling other VA staff of her decision to instruct medical support assistants not to schedule consults for veterans in podiatry, according to emails obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. A consult is an appointment with a specialist.

“It has been brought to my attention that the PACT MSA’s have been asked to do consult scheduling for podiatry,” DeWenter wrote.

“Currently I have instructed the MSA’s NOT to schedule any consult from Podiatry, this is taking away from the primary duties,” DeWenter added. “Also do not send any one over after a consult is placed for scheduling, they first must be received and reviewed for scheduling.”

The power play by DeWenter did not go unnoticed. Dr. Robert G. Frykberg, chief of podiatry at the Phoenix VA, expressed astonishment at her decision to unilaterally cut off scheduling support for no real reason.

“Is this Veteran Centered Care? Is this efficiency?” Frykberg asked, also copying facility director Deborah Amdur on the email. “Is this the way we provide assistance to clinicians?”

“In 40 years of practice I have never heard of anything like this! We have providers to care for our VETERAN PATIENTS in NEED,” Frykberg wrote. “Yet we do not want to provide MSAs to schedule patients and consults after they have been reviewed/activated by the provider?? This is obstructing efficient care of our patients and it simply does not reflect what I believe is our best effort to improve our system.”

AFTER CUTTING MILITARY HEALTHCARE, OBAMA CALLS FOR “GOOD HEALTHCARE” FOR VETS — FPM — Obama decided to commemorate Memorial Day (after denouncing the US military from Vietnam to Japan) by calling for “good healthcare” for veterans.

President Obama called for veterans to receive better healthcare and good-paying jobs during a Memorial Day speech at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

“We have to be there not only when we need them, but when they need us,” Obama told the crowd of survivors who have lost loved ones in battle.

“Truly remembering means that after our fallen heroes gave everything to get their battle buddies home, we have to make sure our veterans get everything that they have earned — from good healthcare to a good job,” he continued. “We have to do better.”

Who exactly is “we”? Obama and his VA secretaries who oversaw death panels at the VA? Obama pushed aggressively for health care fee hikes and cuts for military families.

WORLD WAR II VET FALLS VICTIM TO $43,000 SCAM — FOX — Jack Holder survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and aerial combat over Midway and the English Channel unscathed. But the 94-year-old World War II veteran recently fell victim to a sweepstakes scam that cost him $43,000 in what he called the “worst tragedy of my life.”

Holder received a phone call last March informing him he was the winner in the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes — and would be rewarded with $4.7 million and a new Mercedes-Benz, the Arizona Republic newspaper reported.

In order to claim his prize, Holder had to provide some personal information and open a bank account where the money could be deposited, according to the paper.

But days later, thieves made off with $43,000 from Holder and his fiancee, 78-year-old Ruth Calabro.

VETERANS FACE CHALLENGES WHEN JOINING THE CIVILIAN WORKFORCE — S&S — MIDLAND, Texas (Tribune News Service) — “It was a little uncomfortable.”

That’s how U.S. Army veteran Jason Valentin describes his transition from life in the military to life in the civilian workforce.

“From 19 years old, (the military was) all I really knew,” he said. “So, to get out and punch a time clock was awkward for me.”

Valentin’s experience isn’t unique.

WWII VETERAN, WHO FOUGHT TO EXPOSE SECRET MUSTARD GAS EXPERIMENTS, DIES — WBUR — Charles “Lindy” Cavell could never forget what the U.S. military tried to hide. Cavell fought to bring to light the secret mustard gas testing program he had participated in during World War II and for VA compensation for the test subjects. He died at home Wednesday at 89.

Cavell was featured prominently in an NPR investigation last year that found the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to notify mustard gas test subjects — who had been sworn to secrecy about the testing — of their eligibility for compensation, and routinely denied help to those who qualified for it.

During the last year of his life, Cavell was finally granted additional benefits and some back pay after a 26-year battle with the VA, according to his daughter, Linda Smith.

“I think he felt like he had finally accomplished something, and he was relieved that other service members were being recognized” as a result of the stories he was featured in, Smith said.

VETERANS SHARE EXPERIENCES AT SOLEMN CEREMONY — DAYTON DAILY NEWS — DAYTON — Vietnam veteran Charles R. Perry was once among an army of service members who were not welcomed when they returned home from war.

Today, that attitude has changed, Perry, 68, a former Army soldier said at a solemn Memorial Day ceremony Monday on a hill overlooking thousands of grave sites and white tombstones that stretched in every direction at the Dayton National Cemetery.

“I’ve learned over the years people want to approach us and I’m willing to give them that opportunity, and thank them for recognizing the Vietnam veterans because we were not recognized back in the ’60s when I was in the service,” said Perry, a Washington Twp., resident who wore a black bandana identifying him as a veteran of the Vietnam war.

But for retired Army Col. Kathy Platoni who deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, many Americans are disconnected from soldiers at war and the plight they face when they come back.

The 64-year-old Centerville psychologist, now a volunteer member of the Ohio Military Reserve, said in a keynote address to those gathered too often others are more preoccupied with three days off work during the Memorial Day weekend than remembering those who have gone to war under the nation’s colors.


It so annoyed one US Marine who fought in Vietnam that he complained about it to a fellow veteran. This is a day for remembering the names and faces of those Americans who fought and died, he said.

“Happy doesn’t seem the right word,” the Marine told retired Lt. Col John Nagl, an Army veteran of the war in Iraq who has lost friends in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nagl says he sees things a little differently.

“Memorial Day is a time when Americans celebrate liberty. They celebrate those who fell for their liberty, and certainly the friends I’ve lost [in Iraq and Afghanistan], I can’t think of any better way to celebrate them than to throw a burger on the grill next to the pool, be with friends and tell some stories about them. And remember them,” Nagl says.

“That’s what I would want them to do [on this Memorial Day] if the bullet had found me instead of … them.”

WOMEN PILOTS ALLOWED BACK INTO ARLINGTON FOR BURIAL — VOA — Women World War II pilots are again guaranteed full burial honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

That is because the two main U.S. political parties put their differences aside to change the policy that had blocked the women’s burial at Arlington.

Both houses of Congress approved a bill to permit inurnment of the remains at the cemetery, just outside Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama signed it into law on May 20.

The government once had a policy that gave the former Women Airforce Service Pilots, known as WASP, rights to be buried at Arlington. But that policy was canceled in 2015.

The new law gives women who flew during World War II the right to be inurned in the nation’s highest honor military cemetery. Inurnment means their ashes can be laid to rest there.

GARY SINISE: JOIN ME IN HONORING AMERICA’S GREATEST HEROES — WND — The nation will pause over the coming days to honor all Americans who have given their lives to defend the United States, and this year the National Memorial Day Concert will continue its legacy of saluting all who have worn the uniform with a special tribute to a man who still serves decades after losing a leg in Vietnam.

The National Memorial Day Concert takes place Sunday, May 29 at 8 p.m. on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol. It airs on PBS. Actors Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna will co-host the event, which will include acts such as the Beach Boys, Trace Adkins, two different “American Idol” performers and the National Symphony Orchestra.

“I wouldn’t be anywhere else this weekend,” Sinise told WND and Radio America. “It’s become such a special way to highlight and honor the men and women who served our country and paid the ultimate price for our freedom.”

MILITARY VETERAN FINDS NEW MISSION AS VA NURSE — BREITBART — COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Nursing assistant Tom Alligood wears camouflage scrubs during his emergency room shifts at the Dorn VA hospital because he says it helps other veteran patients realize they’ve “walked over the same dirt,” the 62-year-old former Army tanker says.

And he doesn’t just mean the desert sands of Iraq.

Alligood means homelessness, job loss and the mental anguish of being a long-time military veteran trying to adjust to the trials of a dog-eat-dog, backstabbing civilian world he says nearly ate him alive.

“I need to be around veterans like me. That’s where I get my strength, my ‘positiveness’ from,” says the burly former first sergeant who now sports a long, gray braid on his back.

Alligood says he has found a new mission – working in the sprawling Columbia VA hospital and helping as many of his one-time brothers and sisters in arms as he can.



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