American Veteran News 06.14.16

PTSD: WHAT’S WORKING, WHAT’S AHEAD? — STARS & STRIPES — As U.S. troops continue to come home with invisible wounds, research continues to change the understanding and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

University of California, San Diego scientists recently showed that genes make some people more likely to be affected by the condition, known also as PTSD. More than 90 other PTSD studies are underway at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in the region.

Nearly 1,190,000 veterans obtained health services from the VA between Oct. 1, 2001 and March 31 of last year, according to the agency. Almost 379,000 of them were diagnosed with PTSD at some point.

Navy veteran Jordan Miller is one of those patients. He’s also considered a PTSD success story at the VA hospital in La Jolla, which is helping to promote June as PTSD Awareness Month.

After completing 42 weeks of treatment as part of a research study that paired antidepressants with weekly “talk” therapy, he reports a night-and-day change in his PTSD symptoms.

“I don’t think I’m 100 percent, and I don’t think I ever will be. But I definitely think I’m well above 50 percent,” said Miller, who served on Navy vessel-boarding teams in the Persian Gulf during three deployments. He left the military in 2014 after seven years of service.

“I’m not depressed anymore. I get a lot more sleep,” the 29-year-old said.

COURT OVERTURNS VERDICT IN ‘AMERICAN SNIPER’ DEFAMATION CASE — AP — An appeals court threw out the $1.8 million award to Jesse Ventura and ordered a retrial in the “American Sniper” defamation case.

On June 13, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a jury’s decision to award Jesse Ventura $1.8 million in damages following a 2014 defamation case between Ventura and the estate of Chris Kyle, reports the Associated Press.

The late Kyle was a former Navy SEAL and regarded as the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history.

In his book, “American Sniper,” Kyle described a fight between himself and Ventura at a California bar in 2006, and accused the former Minnesota governor of making offensive comments about Navy SEALs, including a line about how they “deserve to lose a few” in Iraq.

Kyle, who was killed by a troubled fellow veteran on a shooting range in 2013, gave sworn videotaped testimony before his death that the story was true.

Ventura, a Navy veteran and former SEAL himself, testified that the altercation never happened and that the chapter ruined his reputation among the tight-knit community, when he sued for defamation in 2014.

RYAN PITTS ON WHY EVEN THE MOST PAINFUL WAR STORIES SHOULD BE SHARED — T&P — For Ryan Pitts, the Medal of Honor is a reminder of the sacrifices made by the 48 American soldiers he fought alongside during the Battle of Wanat.

On July 13, 2008, while deployed to Kunar province, Afghanistan, with Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, Pitts participated in a battle where Taliban fighters launched a major assault on a small U.S. Army patrol base.

Nine American soldiers were killed in the attack and 27 wounded, including Pitts, a sergeant at the time.

The battle began around 4 a.m. when Vehicle Patrol Base Kahler near the village of Wanat came under attack from approximately 200 enemy combatants armed with mortars, heavy machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades. While the attack was focused on the patrol base, Pitts’ position at Observation Post Topside bore the brunt of the attack.

In the first 30 minutes of the battle, most of the soldiers at Topside were incapacitated, and Pitts was injured after a wave of rocket-propelled grenades slammed into their position. Despite his severe injuries from shrapnel wounds to his arms and legs, he fought on. Pitts rotated between manning a machine gun and cooking off grenades, which means holding them long enough so that when they are thrown they detonate before they can be thrown back. He continued to call in situation reports even when the enemy was close enough for him to hear voices.

VETERANS BIKE ACROSS THE US, RAISE AWARENESS FOR PTSD — MILCOM — CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Michael Priddy and David Allison went on a do-good adventure they won’t soon forget. On April 28 they left Sacramento, Calif., on their bicycles, rode across the U.S., and finished their ride in Quantico, Virginia.

They made the 47-day, 2,700 mile transcontinental trek, called “No Man Rides Alone,” to raise funds and awareness for veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Priddy and Allison stopped in 42 cities along the way. They visited Clarksburg on June 6 and continued to New Creek, West Virginia, on June 7.

“Our goal is to raise one million dollars,” said a ride organizer who works for The Eternity Challenge, one of three organizational sponsors. The other two sponsors are Serving California and the Mighty Oaks Foundation.

ON A DAY THAT SYMBOLIZES THE NATION, REMEMBERING THE FORGOTTEN SOLDIERS — STARS & STRIPES — WASHINGTON — There were no markers on their graves or families laying flowers at their final resting place. Their service to this country, memorable in times of war, had long been forgotten.

But Tuesday is Flag Day. And in a small town in upstate New York, 27 headstones recently placed on graves that had long remained unmarked will be dedicated with full military honors, to men who served their country in life but became anonymous in death.

“We make a promise in our cemetery that no soldier is forgotten,” said Kelly Grimaldi, historian for the Albany Diocesan Cemeteries. “We make that promise in our country.”

To Grimaldi and her colleagues at the diocesan cemeteries, Flag Day, which was first established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, seemed a fitting day to offer symbolic tribute to these soldiers of the Spanish-American War and World Wars I and II, who had remained unrecognized at St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands, N.Y. for many years.

The cemetery had a list of people buried in its two veterans lots. But for decades, no one noticed half of the 54 graves had no stones.

USC MILITARY CENTER TO BEGIN BAY AREA VETERANS STUDY — USC NEWS — The Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans & Military Families has received funding to launch an in-depth study assessing the needs of veterans in the Bay Area, particularly the military-to-civilian transition issues facing LGBT veterans.

Thanks to support from the Wells Fargo Foundation and Deloitte LLP, the San Francisco Veterans Study will poll 1,000 veterans on such topics as transition challenges, employment, finances, housing, health and access to services.

The San Francisco study is the fourth study CIR has conducted of a large urban military population, and the third in California.

Sara Kintzle, a research assistant professor overseeing the study, said CIR takes the opportunity to delve deeper into specific populations and subject matter in each of its studies.

The most recent Chicagoland Veterans Study focused on female veterans and how military identity and perception may impact transition. The San Francisco study will add a focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender veterans, along with the experiences of those who commute into the city for services.

“Every city has something unique to offer us to learn,” Kintzle said. “It’s hard for people to ignore community data when we show them exactly what’s happening in their own backyard.”

CVETERANS POW WOW HONORS AMERICA’S WARRIORS — MOUNT AIRY NEWS — Henry Lee tried for years to get his veteran buddy David Taylor to come to one of the Native American Pow Wows he helps organize.

“I kept giving him excuses,” Taylor said, but one year he finally gave in and witnessed the series of ceremonies, drumming and dancing performed by Native Americans in full regalia.

He was hooked.

“Now he’s like a kid in a candy store,” Lee said.

Taylor challenged anyone to attend a pow-pow and not get goose bumps.

“Everyone should see that at least once,” he said. “That thing is so spiritual.”

ORGANIZERS OF VANDALIZED RYE AFRICAN AMERICAN CEMETERY PLAN SOLIDARITY RALLY — RYE PATCH — Rye, NY — The Rye community is being asked to come together in solidarity to show its outrage over the act of vandalism that occurred before Memorial Day at a historic cemetery.

Friends of the African American Cemetery have scheduled an event or 10 a.m. Saturday, June 18 at the Greenwood Union Cemetery, 215 North St. in Rye.

Vandals stripped the fabric portion of the American flags placed near headstones in the African American Cemetery, leaving the veterans’ flags in the adjacent Greenwood Union Cemetery untouched.

The flags were replaced before the Memorial Day ceremony, leaving the remaining stick in the ground as a reminder of what had happened, organizers said.

Police collected evidence from the site, but no new leads have been found.

5 STUDY HABITS FOR CRUSHING SCHOOL WHEN YOU GO BACK — T&P — A third-year medical student and sailor offers tips to vets for practicing effective study habits.

As many of you well know, transitioning out of the military and into the civilian world can be a daunting task. Military members work in a variety of complex fields, but it can still be hard to go from warfighter to full-time student. You may have been an Army combat engineer, with experience building bridges in combat and under fire. Alternatively, you might have been a Navy independent duty corpsman, serving as the sole medical provider for the entire crew of a ballistic missile submarine. Even with these outstanding experiences, transitioning to the civilian world and continuing to progress in your field can be difficult. Many vets choose to pursue higher education to bolster their career prospects, and the GI Bill allows you to return to school and receive the education that you need.

Unfortunately, it isn’t just as simple as signing up for classes and showing up. Returning to the boring classroom after numerous years of field experience can be a challenge in itself.

D-DAY FLAG FROM US BOAT SELLS FOR $514K AT DALLAS AUCTION — MILCOM — DALLAS — The U.S. flag flown on the stern of the boat that led the first American troops onto Utah Beach on D-Day was sold Sunday for $514,000 at auction in Texas.

Heritage Auctions spokesman Noah Fleisher says the 48-star flag from the guide boat was sold during a live auction in Dallas. Fleisher identified the buyer as Dutch businessman Bertram Kreuk, who said in a statement released by Heritage that he wanted to “make sure that the important story this flag represents will be kept alive.”

The pre-sale estimate for the flag was $100,000. The banner has one bullet hole, blamed on a German machine gun, according to the Dallas-based auction house.

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