VoteVets – Still A Phony Veteran’s Group

I mentioned a while ago that just because an organization has the word “Vets” in it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s interested in helping Veterans.   Look no further than VoteVets for evidence.  

A political advocacy group started by Iraq war veterans received nearly $4 million from environmental groups around the same time it began running political ads attacking members of Congress who did not support a disputed climate bill.

VoteVets Action Fund, a nonprofit organization that is not required by law to reveal its donors, received  $670,000 from the Sierra Club and another $500,000 from the NRDC Action Fund, according to a report authored by the Center for Responsive Politics. The largest donations—around $3.78 million—were made by former Vice President Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate.

“Until 2010, the organization had not been involved in environmental causes and instead focused on opposing the troop surge in Iraq under President George W. Bush, supporting a new G.I. bill to fund education for military veterans and similar issues,” according to the report, titled, “The Shadowy Money Trail.”

The report adds:

The Alliance for Climate Protection gave money to VoteVets in three separate grants, the dates of which are not listed on the IRS forms. The reason for the contributions is, however: “To support the purchase of airtime for an educational television advertisement about the national security benefits and benefits to American soldiers of clean energy,” reads one description. The other two are also for airtime purchases, but the ads are explained as being “about the benefits to the American people of more clean American-made power” and “about the costs to American soldier’s of America’s dependence on foreign oil.”

First, why did they oppose the troop surge when it is widely attributed to winning the Iraq War? (Funny, that’s the same stance wanted by Obama and the rest of the Democrats who wanted us (Soldiers) to fail so they had more political ammo against Bush.)  Apparently VoteVets isnt concerned with winning the war, just the “exit strategy.”

Second, how in the hell is  “clean energy”  a “national security benefit” to “American Soldiers?”  It’s that tired old liberal “no blood for oil” meme again.  Are we in Afghanistan for oil? No.   Did we secure the oil contracts in Iraq for ourselves?  Again, no.   Libya?  Still coming up dry.  Furthermore, how is this even relevant?  At a time where Veterans suicide rates are high, homelessness is also sky high, Soldiers with PTSD are not getting the treatment they need,  the VA is still a bureaucratic nightmare, and Obama is set to make  military health care costs skyrocket, “clean energy” is what we should be concerned about?  Are you kidding me???

VoteVets continues to promote clean energy and environmental initiatives, writing in email blasts to supporters about the supposed success of its “Clean Energy Tour.”

Earlier this month, the group launched a $2 million ad campaign aimed at promoting a “clean energy economy.”

Two million dollars going not to help Veterans, but to push another progressive agenda.  I wonder how much of that money was donated under the assumption it be spent on helping Veterans?  Do NOT donate money to this organization.  They are nothing more than another progressive group masquerading as a Veterans advocacy organization.   Give to legitimate Veteran organizations.

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Obama Cuts Military Benefits, Leaves Unionized Civilians Untouched

From Jim Hoft at GatewayPundit:

They will now only get the $7.50 daily proration for the individual days they are actually serving in harm’s way instead of for the whole month. (DOD)

Barack Obama cut pay for military men and women serving in harm’s way starting this month.

Now the Obama Administration is planning on cutting healthcare benefits for active duty soldiers while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched.
The Free Beacon reported:

The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.

As angry as this proposal makes me, I’m not surprised. This is the same President Obama who proposed making wounded Veterans like myself pay for our war injuries using private insurance. He simply does not respect the military.  When your loyalty to the unions who fill your campaign coffers with cash supersedes your loyalty to the men and women who put their lives on the line for the country you lead, you are truly, and utterly, morally depraved.

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Media Continues Racism Narrative on Death of Private Danny Chen

Apparently the racism narrative on the suicide of Private Danny Chen isn’t going away.  From the Washington Post:

NEW YORK — The harassment of Danny Chen, 19, started in basic training — teasing about his name, repeated questions of whether he was from China, even though he was a born-and-raised New Yorker. He wrote in his journal that he was running out of jokes to respond with.

It got worse in Afghanistan, military investigators told his family. They said the other men in his unit showered Chen, the only Chinese American in his unit, with racial slurs and physical abuse in the weeks leading up to his suicide in early October. Eight soldiers have been charged in connection with his death.

Bullying or a test of mettle?

For some Asian Americans who have served in the military, the racial-prejudice aspect of Chen’s purported mistreatment comes with little surprise, based on what they’ve seen or experienced. But others say that the military is a place where everyone’s limits are tested, and that the failure in Chen’s case was one of leadership on the Army’s part.

It’s unclear how often service members experience ­racial bullying. Despite repeated requests, the Army did not provide any data. The Defense Department said it had no information because each branch of the military is responsible for its own recordkeeping. The Army did say that it has regulations against hazing and bullying.

(I have already addressed the comments that were made to him in basic training at Fort Benning in a previous post.)  AP paints this dire picture of a military gone racist, attacking their own.   Not once in the article do they mention Chen’s inability to function as an Infantry Soldier.  As one commenter points out:

2/25/2012 11:24 AM CST
I am wondering how much boo hooing would be going on if it came out that Pvt, Chen, who slept on Guard Duty allowed the COP to be overrun and several soldiers were killed???He arrived at the COP unprepared with a boat load of issues!!! He could NOT adjust to the rigors of COP life physically or mentally!! So in everyone’s opinion, the other 20 guys should have had to be at his mercy? They were trying to make a vialble soldier!!! They NEEDED him!!! They had started out with 42 Soldiers and by the time Pvt. Chen arrived they were down to 20!!!! What do you think happened to the others??? IED’S!!!Why don’t you all try reading other sources besides this copy and paste one!!! Would you all like to hear what the OCA-NY is considering racism??????? Calling him by his LAST NAME!!!!!What was the “hazing’? Push-ups, sit-ups and sprinting carrying a 20 lb. sand bag!!! Why would they need to do that? Because since they American’s arrived at the COP in June they had been attacked by Taliban OVER 100 times!!! they had several WIA’s while patrolling……..A soldier HAD to be able to sprint under fire carrying a battle buddy!!! Had he trained with them from the beginning……he would have had to do the sprints carrying another person…..seems to me the sandbag would be easier!!!! The horrible Rock Incident? The Wall Street Journal was honest enough to explain that!!! Chen did not deploy with these soldiers, he was a replacement inserted at the height of fighting season!!! He was being taught to Low Crawl, a standard infantry exercise and the rocks were thrown NEAR him to simulate getting shot at which was a daily occurrance outside of the wire!!!!He left a computer and a journal that will tell the TRUE story!

First, I have yet to find any evidence that points to Chen being picked on solely because he was Asian.  Everything points to his inability to perform as a competent Soldier.  The harsh reality that neither the media nor civilians realize or are willing to admit, is that being able to properly do ones job in the military is a matter of life and death not just for an individual Soldier, but for everyone around them.

Furthermore, the ability of the military to operate as a whole is based on trust between Soldiers.  Trust that the Soldier on tower duty is going to stay awake.  Trust that the Soldier to your left is scanning their sector and isn’t going to allow the enemy to creep through.  Trust that the Soldier is competent enough to do their job and will not endanger the mission or well being of the whole unit.

Unfortunately, the media has been quick to gloss over Private Chen’s inability to perform even the most simple tasks required of a Soldier. But once in a while they let the facts slip through the racism narrative.  From the New Yorker:

The eight men later charged in connection with his death are all white and range in age from 24 to 35; they include one lieutenant, two staff sergeants, three sergeants, and two specialists. Members of this group allegedly harassed and humiliated Chen from almost the day he arrived at The Palace. They belittled him with racial slurs. They forced him to do push-ups with a mouthful of water, refusing to let him swallow or spit any out. And, on September 27, a sergeant allegedly yanked him out of bed and dragged him across about 50 yards of gravel toward a shower trailer as punishment for supposedly breaking the hot-water pump. He endured bruises and cuts on his back. Army officials told Chen’s family that although the leader of his platoon found out about this incident, he never reported it as he was required to.

One week later, on the morning of October 3, Chen was scheduled to report for guard duty at 7:30 a.m. But when he got to the guard tower, he realized he’d forgotten his helmet and didn’t have enough water. A superior sent him back to the trailer to get what he needed, then allegedly forced him to crawl, with all his equipment, across some 100 meters of gravel in order to return to the tower so he could start his shift. While he was on the ground, two other superiors pelted him with rocks. And once he reached the tower, a superior grabbed him by his body armor and dragged him up the steps.

First, not only did he not have enough water, but he didn’t have enough water a mere week after being punished for the very same infraction.  The. Very. First. Thing. They. Teach. You.  In the Army:  Drink water.  Its drilled into you in boot, in your unit, during training, Army schools, road marches and every aspect of the military life.  Its the answer for everything in the military. Have a headache?  Drink water. Hungry? Drink water. Tired? Drink water.  Twisted ankle? Drink water. Arm blown off by an IED? Drink water.   There is a reason Soldiers carry Camelbaks everywhere they go.  Every year Soldiers needlessly die of dehydration, or put others lives at risk when they compromise missions.  The fact that he had to be told multiple times tells me it either wasn’t sinking in with him, or he was abdicating his responsibilities on purpose.

And forgetting his Kevlar? As a person who is a combat Veteran of Iraq and has spent his share of time in a guard tower, let me help the civilians out in understanding this level of incompetence.  Imagine you roll out of bed, get ready for work, and head off to your job.  Upon arriving at the office, your boss reprimands you because you forgot to put pants on over your underwear.  That is the equivelant of forgetting your Kevlar or body armor in the military.  And it would be one thing if he forgot it during training, but in a combat zone in Afghanistan? It makes his performance as a Soldier look that much worse.

As for the tactics the military uses, I apparently need to explain this to the civilians who are eagerly looking for someone to blame for his death.  If being forced to low crawl across a gravel parking lot, or do flutter kicks, push-ups, sprinting with a sand bag, or any other form of physical corrective training is hazing, then the Army had better close basic training, air assault school, Ranger school, jump school, sniper school, and every other training environment because every one of them do it.  I have fond memories of my entire platoon low crawling over 100 m across a gravel parking lot at Fort Benning, the very same place Private Chen went to boot.  I also have fond memories of having my face in the dirt as I low crawled through muddy obstacles at air assault school while the air assault instructors screamed at me.  If sprinting with a sandbag is torture,  then I should have been thrown in jail for making my Soldiers wear their body armor during 3 mile runs in Kuwait’s 110° heat, prior to flying into Iraq.  The fact of the matter is, I have yet to really see anything he was made to do that was outside the normal requirements of an infantryman.  The infantry is supposed to be hard, it’s supposed to be physically demanding.  It’s war, not Boy Scout camp.  Turn on any “making the cut” show on the military, and you’ll see that.  As for the rocks that were supposedly thrown at him, I need to remind you he was wearing body armor.  When you throw a rock at someone wearing body armor, it makes a  “thwack” sound.  Considering the Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) is designed to stop bullets and shrapnel (as I found out the hard way), a rock thrown does nothing other than get the Soldiers attention, a handy tool for a Soldier who has a history of lackadaisical performance.

Of all the jobs required of infantry Soldiers, tower guard is by far the easiest, and the most boring.  You show up with your body armor, weapon, and water, and climb up in the tower. During your shift you sit there and scan your sector.  Periodically you radio back to let the TOC know your status, or if there are any potential threats.  Occasionally there is a threat that needs to be dealt with, but for the most part that is all you do.  99% of the time you’re bored out of your mind.  Yet as boring as it is, the lives of the other Soldiers on the base are dependant upon you doing your job, including showing up to work prepared for your shift.  The fact that he couldn’t even get that right is a testament to his lack of discipline as a Soldier.  But this isnt the first time we’ve heard of this.

Private Chen’s parents, Su Zhen Chen and Yan Tao Chen, Chinese immigrants who live in the East Village, said they did not know if their son had done anything else that the other soldiers might have taken as a provocation. But in October, military officials gave the Chens a photocopy of a page from Private Chen’s personal journal that included a list, apparently in his handwriting, describing procedural failures: “Didn’t clear weapon,” “Didn’t hydrate,” and “No attention to detail (little things).”

As I mentioned in a previous post on the matter:

The “procedural failure” that immediately jumped out at me was “didn’t clear weapon.”   In military speak that means Chen forgot to unload his weapon before entering a base and/or building.  That means he was not only a danger to himself, but the other Soldiers around him.  Not only that, but he failed to do one of the first and most basic things they teach you in Boot at Ft. Benning: drink water.  Every year Soldiers needlessly die from both dehydration and negligent discharges (NDs)  from weapons that were not cleared.  These are basic tasks required of every Soldier regardless of MOS. But for an Infantry Soldier the inability to do these most simple tasks is especially bad.  “Attention to detail” can mean any number of things in the Army from not cleaning ones weapon properly to forgetting a radio battery on a mission to forgetting to turn off the water heater.

Based on all this  information it would appear that they were justified in leaving him behind on missions.  Does that mean they were justified in throwing rocks at him and using racial slurs during his punishment?  Absolutely not.  Was Private Danny Chen unfairly targeted simply because he was Chinese?  It does not appear so.  Was the treatment of him by the other Soldiers simply for racial reasons? Again, not likely. It would appear as though he received unwanted attention due to his inability to perform basic tasks required of any Soldier, but especially an Infantry Soldier.   He simply wasn’t cut out for the military.

There is that simple task again: drink water.  I am here to tell you from experience, you sweat like a pig when you are wearing body armor.  Every year soldiers die of dehydration because they did not consume enough water.  Apparently the inability to perform even the most simple tasks was the norm for this young Soldier. And lets not forget the most severe of them all, forgetting to clear his weapon.  While I was in Iraq there were numerous incidents of Soldiers being wounded or even killed by other Soldiers who forgot to clear (unload) their weapon.  As was stated previously, the whole reason Private Chen was left behind in the first place is because they did not feel comfortable taking him on missions.  They deemed him to be more of a liability than an asset.  And it was this issue which led to him being left behind on patrols, and him accidentally using up all the fuel for hot water on the base.  It was this incident that led to him being dragged from his bed when they returned from patrol.  Take a second, and put yourself in the boots of the Soldiers around him.   Here they are in a base in Afghanistan, undermanned, stretched to their limits, watching their buddies get sent home wounded, and one of the reinforcements sent to them ends up being more of a liability than an asset.  They were doing their best to turn him into a competent Soldier, it just wasn’t taking.  

Again, the more I read, the more it seems like this kid just wasn’t cut out for the military, or at least the Infantry.  Race had nothing to do with it.  He made one poor choice after another and it all snowballed. Soon all the other Soldiers were mad at him.  Yet nowhere does it appear that they were targeting him simply for being Asian.  They were targeting him because he was not competent in a combat MOS and was putting other people’s lives in danger.

As I have said before, any racially charged statements or other racist behavior on the part of the other Soldiers toward Private Chen is inexcusable.  The military is a very racially diverse place that welcomes people of all backgrounds and gives all Soldiers equal opportunity to succeed.  As I have stated previously, the military is by far the most diverse group of people I ever been a part of.   For those of us who served as infantrymen in the Army,  the racism narrative doesn’t fit.  Without trust between all Soldiers of all races and backgrounds, the military would have fallen apart long ago.

Sadly, Private Danny Chen made the decision to take his own life over the other options available to him.  He could have reported his situation to his chain of command.  He could have written home.   He could have contacted JAG.   He could have told the Soldier he replaced in the guard tower what was on his mind.  Unfortunately, he chose to end his own life.   Again, my heart goes out to the family of Private Danny Chen.   No Soldier should ever make the choice that he did.  


Posted in Danny Chen, Mainstream Media, My Reads | Tagged | 6 Comments

Girl Kept Captive and Starved in Madison Basement

What is it with people in Madison?

When the malnourished 15-year-old awoke each morning, she could hear her family eating and getting ready for the day. If she felt especially brave or desperate she would call to her stepmother and beg for food, but usually she just went back to bed and hoped her hunger pangs went away.

The girl was 70 pounds when she was rescued. She told investigators during lengthy interviews at the hospital that most of the food she ate was scraps she found on the floor or in the garbage. She had spent most of five years in the basement of her family’s Madison home, where she was beaten and sexually assaulted.

The girl’s statements, contained in court documents, paint a troubling picture of physical, mental and sexual abuse. The girl describes running away, only to be found, brought home and threatened. Confined to the basement, she had no one to ask for help. She wasn’t allowed to go to school or church, have visitors or talk on the phone.

Dane County officials say the girl is getting help now. She gained 17 pounds after about a week under doctors’ care, a criminal complaint said. She has been placed in foster care, and child welfare officials say there’s been an outpouring of support from people across the nation, who sent cards and letters.

Her father and stepmother have been charged with child abuse, child neglect and reckless endangerment. The charges carry a maximum combined prison sentence of 11 years, 3 months. The girl’s 18-year-old stepbrother is charged with child abuse and child sexual assault and faces 68 years behind bars if convicted.

Lets hope they get the maximum sentence for their crimes.  Unfortunately, I do not think it will be long enough to give this poor little girl justice.

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Walter Reed Overturns PTSD Diagnoses From Madigan Army Medical Center

First we need a little background on the issue. From Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive.

In a lecture to colleagues, a Madigan Army Medical Center psychiatrist said a soldier who retires with a post-traumatic-stress-disorder diagnosis could eventually receive $1.5 million in government payments, according to a memo by a Western Regional Medical Command ombudsman who attended the September presentation

The psychiatrist went on to claim the rate of such diagnoses eventually could cause the Army and Department of Veterans Affairs to go broke (By Hal Bernton, Seattle Times staff reporter).

This psychiatrist went beyond just noting the cost of treating those who were hurt and rightly had a knot jerked in his tail.

A Madigan Army Medical Center psychiatrist who screens soldiers for PTSD has been removed from clinical duties while investigators look into controversial remarks he made about patients and the financial costs of disability benefits, according to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray.

Keppler allegedly made inappropriate comments about the forensic team’s role as financial gatekeeper in the Army retirement process during a September presentation, according to Murray.

In a meeting last fall attended by an Army ombudsman, Keppler and other team members reportedly made disrespectful comments about patients whose files were under review.

More than a dozen soldiers who believed their PTSD diagnoses were wrongly dropped by the Madigan team gained new reviews this year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in an unusual intervention arranged by Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho.

That is a good first step, but does anyone really think this was an isolated incident? I know it wasn’t.  The same problem exists right back here in the Army’s flagship PTSD program at Walter Reed. I know of multiple instances where diagnoses of PTSD have been downgraded or determined to be not “Line of Duty”. One method of limiting the number of diagnoses is to find that the condition “Existed Prior to Service”. For some patients this means taking isolated incidents that occurred long before joining the military and naming them as the proximate cause, even if the service member never had any symptoms or received any treament for them. This is analogous to telling an amputee his injury existed prior to service because the now-missing ankle was sprained on a Boy Scout hike when he was a kid.

So basically, this quack was going to save the government money by downgrading PTSD of returning Soldiers.  Walter Reed has since overturned six of the misdiagnosed cases.  From the Seattle Times.

When an Army forensic psychiatric team at Madigan Army Medical Center examined Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Davis, it concluded the soldier who served in Iraq and Afghanistan had exaggerated his symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and had wrongly been diagnosed with the condition.

But a psychiatric team at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center recently reversed the Madigan diagnosis. It concluded the 45-year-old Davis had PTSD, which is expected to make him eligible for a retirement pension and health insurance for his wife and dependents.

“This isn’t just about money and benefits to myself and my wife,” Davis said Wednesday in a meeting with reporters at Sen. Patty Murray’s office in Seattle. “It’s doing what’s right. Taking care of soldiers that are coming home.”

Davis is one of 14 soldiers whose Madigan diagnoses were reviewed at Walter Reed as part of a wider investigation into the PTSD screening and treatment at the Western Washington medical center.

The Army Medical Command said Wednesday that six of those soldiers had PTSD diagnoses reinstated. The remaining eight soldiers, according to Walter Reed doctors, had behavioral-health conditions other than PTSD, including two who were never initially diagnosed with the condition.

The article describes in great detail how some Soldiers who obviously had PTSD were misdiagnosed  by Dr. Gatekeeper and his team in order to save Uncle Sam a buck.

The Seattle Times looked at the medical records of a mix of six soldiers and veterans who were screened for possible medical retirements at Madigan. (Only one of those cases was reviewed by Walter Reed doctors.)

They all had been deployed to combat zones, some repeatedly. All were initially diagnosed with PTSD by Army or VA medical providers and often underwent extensive treatment, only to have the Madigan team overturn their diagnoses. After interviews and administering tests, the Madigan team concluded five of them were exaggerating their symptoms and some had other conditions such as personality disorders.

“What they are saying is that I’m a liar, and that really angers me,” said Tony Stephens, a Washington National Guard veteran from Poulsbo who had initially been diagnosed by the VA with PTSD after returning from Iraq. “They have stripped my honor from me.” At this point, his case is not under review.

The five other soldiers who offered their medical records to The Seattle Times requested anonymity. Those include a soldier who, on his third tour of duty to a war zone, was evacuated because of a suicide attempt. After his return home, he said he slept so fitfully that he once attacked a beloved service dog that had awakened him from a nightmare.

“My (Madigan) report clearly states that I have a personality disorder. I’m a malinger and I overexaggerated my symptoms,” the soldier said. “I find myself thinking I would rather be in a combat zone than dealing with all this.”

Another soldier who had his diagnosis reversed was a combat medic who served in Afghanistan. Shortly after his arrival there, he responded to a suicide bomber who struck a bazaar, injuring 13 U.S. soldiers and more than 20 civilians. The following months were punctuated by other bloody bomb attacks.

He was evacuated before the end of his tour because of his nightmares, jumpiness and other symptoms of acute stress, including voicing thoughts of homicide, according to medical records.

The Madigan team found this soldier had an adjustment disorder but still met “psychiatric standards for retention” in the Army.

I do not think simply firing a couple doctors at Madigan is justice.  What they tried to do cuts much deeper than that.  Our nation’s Veterans deserve better than this.



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Returning Vets Face Job Discrimination by Federal Government

Laws are for the private sector.

Every year, more than a thousand National Guard, reserve and active-duty troops coming back from Iraq, Afghanistan or other military duties complain of being denied jobs or otherwise being penalized by employers because of their military obligations.

The biggest offender: the federal government.

It is against federal law for employers to penalize service members because of their military service. And yet, in some cases, the U.S. government has withdrawn job offers to service members unable to get released from active duty fast enough; in others, service members have been fired after absences.

In fiscal 2011, more than 18 percent of the 1,548 complaints of violations of that law involved federal agencies, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

“On the one hand, the government asked me to serve in Iraq,” said retired Army Brig. Gen. Michael Silva, a reservist who commanded a brigade in Iraq and was fired from his job as a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol contractor on his return. “On the other hand, another branch of government was not willing to protect my rights after serving.”

Read the whole thing, especially the part about the DOJ declining to help returning Veterans facing job discrimination.  I guess they’re too busy running guns into Mexico.

Posted in Government Incompetence, Veterans | 1 Comment

Girl Scout Cookies

I was just wondering, how long will it be until Michelle Obama’s next health initiative is banning, or otherwise modifying girl scout cookies?  How long until they can only be purchased in cute little four cookie packs “for our own good?”  How long until girl scout cookies are only offered in a “lite” version?  How long until they have been modified into the nutritional equivelant of rice cakes?

I ask this because we now live in a big brother society where government lunch officials are searching 4 year old’s lunch boxes to ensure they meet “government guidelines” as to their content.  And earlier this week Michelle Obama was touting her latest achievement of getting candy company Mars to stop selling king size candy bars. (Hey Michelle, did it ever occur to you I’ll just buy TWO regular size candy bars instead?)

So how about it Michelle? How long until girl scout cookies as we know them are a distant memory? When will you seek to ban them?  You know, “for our own good.”

(By the way, enjoy your french fries.)



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Lewis-McChord Soldier Charged With Theft of Military Equipment

This is a perfect example of how not to advance your military career, or make friends in the Army.

Nicholas SoltPvt. Nicholas Solt of Slatington, Pennsylvania, has been arrested in connection with $630,000 worth of missing equipment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, according to Army documents.

Solt, 22, is in a Stryker Brigade attached to JBLM and is also responsible for a 100-Soldier lockdown at that base in January when the gear was discovered to be missing.

The Army maintains that the lockdown was effective in getting vital information for this case.

The missing equipment goes far beyond the random copy-scanner machine; range-finders, rifle scopes and night goggles were among the gear that Solt allegedly stole from the government.  At this time, it is not clear if he acted alone.

Munitions and weapons were not among the missing items.

According to a release from the Army, Solt faces a maximum of 59 years in prison if he is convicted on the six counts he is facing.  Those include:  Larceny of military property, entering a government building with the intent to commit a crime, attempting to sell optical and targeting equipment, threatening to kill another persona and possessing narcotics and steroids.

Solt has been in the Army since 2008 and deployed with the 4th Brigade in 2009.  He remains in custody with the ongoing investigation.

News reports indicate that 98 percent of the missing equipment was recovered by collaborating with ATF.

I figured he was in jail since his Facebook profile is still up.   I remember hearing about this story on the radio when it first happened.  From the sounds of it he may have stolen some PVS14 NODs (night vision goggles) and either M68 CCO (red dot optics) or ACOG scopes.  All of these items are used by the Infantry in combat.  So not only was this punk looking to make a buck off the military, but he was going to do so at the expense of our Soldiers fighting capability. Fortunately he was caught, and will get what is coming to him.

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Suicidal veteran called crisis line, charged with weapons violation

Sadly, this is not the one I mentioned a week ago.  This is a new case.

Homeless and depressed, Sean Duvall wandered the streets of Blacksburg, each step taking him closer to suicide.

In his backpack he carried a final note to his family and a crude, homemade gun fashioned from a piece of steel pipe, a shotgun shell and a nail rigged as a firing pin. For seven days, he contemplated killing himself.

Then, on the night of June 8, 2011, Duvall turned to the country he had served.

A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Duvall called a toll-free crisis line the Department of Veterans Affairs offers as a confidential resource for troubled veterans.

Duvall was looking for help. Instead, he found himself in federal court, charged with possessing a destructive device and three related felonies that could send him to prison for 40 years.

For the government to promise a veteran help through a confidential crisis line, then betray that trust by using his own words to convict him, is more than just unfair, Duvall’s attorney argues.

“This is dishonorable,” federal public defender Randy Cargill wrote in court papers. “It is wrong; it is unfair; it shocks the conscience.”

This is a sad tale that keeps playing out across America.  It it will only serve to stop Veterans from reaching out for help.

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Veterans Bike Journey, and More VA Incompetence

Image: Wesley Barrientos and Jeremy Staat on bicyclesSometimes you just have to do something —anything — to get people’s attention.

Jeremy Staat and Wesley Barrientos, veterans of the Iraq War, have been consumed by that feeling for months now. They’re proud of their military service and proud of their fellow veterans — but they’re also alarmed by the jump in suicides among U.S. veterans and service members during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re so concerned, in fact, that they plan to embark Sunday on a cross-continental bicycle ride to call attention to it.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that a veteran dies by suicide every 80 minutes. That’s an annual death toll of about 6,500 — more than all the U.S. military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan since those conflicts began.

“We need more support for our nation’s veterans,” said Staat, 35, a U.S. Marine veteran and retired NFL player who lives in Bakersfield, Calif. “They deserve our gratitude, and they should get the help they need.”

This sounds like a great way to raise attention to the plights facing our nation’s Veterans. Unfortunately, it sounds like Barrientos has had the exact same VA “care” I have in regards to prosthetic devices.

Barrientos’ military honors include three Purple Hearts and five Army Commendation Medals, and, as a double amputee, his wounds are quite obvious. Nevertheless, he said he’s faced challenges accessing care ever since his third tour of duty in Iraq — and it can be exasperating, because he’s prone to falls.

“I don’t have any feet … so it’s constant a fight against gravity,” he said. “Sometimes gravity wins, sometimes I win.”

Gravity prevailed one day in 2010 when Barrientos’ prosthetic knee gave out on him, causing him to slip and fall in his garage and break two fingers on his right hand. Barrientos said he had to pay the emergency-room bill out of pocket because the VA did not view the incident as an emergency.

He also said the suction valves, or seals, that hold his prosthetic legs in place have been broken for almost a year now, and he hasn’t been able to get them repaired with the VA’s help. So, he’s resorted to creating his own seals with thick white tape and clear plastic bags.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs said the agency could not comment on the specifics of Barrientos’ care because of patient privacy issues. But in a statement to, the VA Department said:

Let me summarize. “Blah, blah, blah, we care, blah blah blah, we’re overtaxed, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.”  Hey, VA, you know what they say about excuses, right?

First of all, there is NO reason he should have had to pay for his visit out of pocket. A double leg amputee with his injuries will have a 100% disability rating and therefore is completely covered, emergency or not.  Whoever told him that AND billed him for his two broken fingers is wrong.  And two broken fingers is not an emergency?  Seriously, what the hell is wrong with these people?

Second, the fight he is going through to get prosthetics care is unconscionable.   And sadly, it is the exact same fight I went through three years ago.  I needed prosthetic arm repairs for a year without getting them.  In fact, I was looking at paying my way back out to Walter Reed to get the repairs I needed because my arm was literally held together by duct tape. It wasn’t until a couple congressman got involved that the situation was fixed.  Not only did I get the help I needed, but I was wearing a brand new arm in a week. There is NO excuse for the lack care from VA prosthetics.  These wars didn’t start yesterday.

The longer I deal with the VA system, the more I believe the lack of care from the VA boils down to one thing: accountability. The answer to every government problem is to throw more money at it. That is not the answer.  The answer is to hold people accountable for their actions.  Or in this case, the lack thereof.  We need people who are willing to put the needs of the patient first.  Until we get them, instead of a bunch of government employees who slip out at 3:30 every day, who hide behind closed doors and receptionists, who brag about all the hard work they do without any results to back it up, the problems will never be fixed.  And no amount of money will ever change that.  The VA needs personal accountability.




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