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Reposted from vzfk3s by llbear

On March 10 during a training exercise off the coast of Florida in heavy fog a Black hawk helio crashed into the gulf. All 11 on board perished in the crash, 7 Marines of an elite unit, 4 Army aircrew.

3 of the Marines were from Michigan, each was a combat Vet. Governor Snyder has decline to order the US flag be lowered in Honor of these Men because they were not oversea in active combat. This is the same Gov that 2 weeks ago ordered flags lowered for the passing of a retired State legislator.

As a Peace time Army vet my reply to the Gov is FU. MY flag will fly at half mast until the final Funeral Service has been held. They each deserve the Honor.

If You live in Michigan and agree please do likewise.

Reposted from A Progressive Military Wife by angelajean
"Everything that we do and every decision we make has to be focused on the veterans we serve," VA Secretary Robert McDonald said.

"Changing the way we determine eligibility to make the process easier for veterans is part of our promise to our veterans."

Military Times, March 18, 2015

Secretary McDonald is speaking specifically of changes being made to the rules and regs of the VA that will allow any veteran to be eligible for VA health care despite their net worth. As of yesterday, the VA will only consider household income and expenses from the prior year.

But at the same time the VA is removing net worth as a factor in determining eligibility for health care, they are attempting to change rules that will make it more difficult for veterans and their eligible widows to qualify for pensions:

In a surprise move, the Veteran’s Administration is proposing new rules on just who can get monthly pension or widow’s benefits. It’s an attempt to prevent people from gaming the system by giving away assets and then applying for aid. But veterans and their families are crying foul. They say it will cause real harm by making an already cumbersome process more so and will mean more delays in granting benefits. That would put needy veterans at risk of losing one of the most critical benefits out there—one that can help veteran’s stay at home and not go to a nursing home.

Forbes, March 10, 2015

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Reposted from A Progressive Military Wife by angelajean
Are you a Vietnam Veteran? Do you know a Vietnam Veteran? Do you care at all about veteran issues?

Then we need you to help spread the word quickly.

The VA is out to change a small program that currently benefits many, many Vietnam era veterans and their widows:

The VA pension—or widow’s pension–benefit provides money to needy veterans and surviving spouses who require daily assistance for necessary activities such as eating, bathing and dressing. Basically, there is no hard and fast net worth number to be eligible, at least for now. If you get down to $80,000 in assets—not including your house or car—and you have high deductible medical expenses that net out your income, you may qualify. A single veteran’s maximum monthly benefit is $1,788, and a surviving spouse’s is $1,149 (it’s tax-free).

Forbes, March 10 2015

Eventually, this program should also help veterans from both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. But if the VA has anything to do with it, the process of applying will be onerous. According to Eileen Walsh, a lawyer who specializes in elder law, "the VA is rigging the system to disqualify those in need, or force them to bleed through whatever incomes or savings they have to retain the benefit."
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Reposted from llbear by llbear

One thing you will never get away with as a Veteran is lying about your accomplishments while in service. That means lying about your rank, lying about your training, lying about what you did, and lying about your injuries. The moment someone challenges your claim you become suspect. Let them prove it, and your cred is shot to hell. Then this happened:

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald apologized again Tuesday for falsely stating that he served in Special Forces, saying that he made the error when trying to make a connection with a homeless veteran.

"In an attempt to connect with that veteran to make him feel comfortable, I incorrectly stated that I too had been in Special Forces," he said at a press conference outside the Department of Veterans Affairs. "That was wrong and I have no excuse."

McDonald emphasized that he had never previously claimed to have served in Special Forces and that he is focused on addressing the concerns of veterans.

NBC News

Veterans Administration Secretary Bob McDonald did the right thing when he said to a homeless veteran that he had been with Special Forces. While he trained with Special Forces, he was never assigned to a Special Forces unit. So why are so many Veterans like me are giving Bob a pass?

If a reporter misses the reason why Bob McDonald said what he did to that homeless man, what does that tell you about the reporter?

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“Why in 2009 were we still using paper?” VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers “When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we’ve been operating on a six month wait for over a decade.” 27 March 2013

VA makes transition from paper files to digital records
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Within the, people served responsibility not upheld, Veterans Administration Agency and it's Dedicated Staff!!

Nurse at Salisbury VA hospital gives veteran the shoes off his feet
Jan. 27, 2015 -  One quality that makes Chuck Maulden a caring emergency department nurse is his ability to put himself in someone else’s shoes.

Recently, he’s been lauded for putting someone else in his.

Maulden, 33, had been working in the emergency department at the Salisbury Veterans Affairs Medical Center for a just a couple of months when a patient came in near the end of his shift one night in November.

The man appeared to be in his mid-60s, Maulden said, and he was there because his feet were causing him such pain he could hardly walk.

“He kept talking about being in bad water in Vietnam,” Maulden said, though Maulden doesn’t know if the man served there during the war. Many soldiers who did suffered from trench foot, caused by long exposure to cold, damp conditions.

The man took off his tattered tennis shoes, and Maulden could see the soles were worn through and coming unglued. The balls of his feet were covered in huge blisters, and his compression stockings had matted to the skin where the blisters had drained. A doctor instructed Maulden to bandage his feet and give him fresh stockings.  read more>>>

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Reposted from Scout Finch by angelajean
Man sleeping on the sidewalk in an
The Crescent City tackles a huge issue facing veterans
The city of New Orleans has just done something many thought would be impossible—placing every known homeless veteran into housing:
At 6 p.m. on Jan. 2, social workers in New Orleans moved the city’s last known homeless veteran into his new apartment – becoming the first US city to effectively eliminate veteran homelessness.
Working with a group of local agencies, the city identified 227 veterans and found housing for every single one of them. From New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu:
“We owe our Veterans our eternal gratitude for their service and sacrifice to this nation, and making sure they have a place to call home is a small but powerful way we can show our appreciation,” Mayor Landrieu said in a statement Wednesday, announcing that New Orleans had housed all known veterans in the Crescent City.
The city engaged a number of partnerships to make it happen:
The New Orleans model has been built on an all hands on deck approach that relies heavily on coordination between local, state, and federal agencies as well as the non-profit outreach community and private landlords.

UNITY of Greater New Orleans, the lead agency responsible for coordinating all homeless housing and services in the area, worked with 60 nonprofit and government agencies to meet the mayor’s deadline.

UNITY took on the issue after being challenged by First Lady Michelle Obama:
The ambitious effort began in response to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homeless external linkness, which challenged communities to end Veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. To date, 312 mayors, six governors, and 71 other county or city officials from across the United States have accepted the challenge.
While the number of homeless veterans in New Orleans is much smaller than other large cities, this is a model which other mayors around the country should be looking at to eradicate homelessness for veterans (and others) nationwide. You can read more about the coalition and their efforts at UNITY of Greater New Orleans.
Reposted from llbear by llbear

Vet63 published a compelling diary in which he describes a friend of his who is an older Veteran still suffering from the psychological pain inflicted during the War in Viet Nam.

Over the last 3 decades I lost count of the number of Veterans I've encountered who had PTSD. Usually I had no prior contact. Sometimes a family member or friend would contact me through a mutual friend. A couple of times I met the Veteran in a store, a restaurant, a bar, or at an airport. The Veterans Administration Hospitals to which I've taken these Veterans include Jesse Brown and Hines in Chicago, The Madison VA Hospital in Wisconsin, The Iowa City VA Hospital in Iowa, The Westside Los Angeles VA Hospital in California, and the Portland VA Hospital in Oregon.

As many of us who are Daily Kos Veterans or spouses of Veterans have stressed there are 153 VA medical centers (hospitals) and approaching 2,000 Community Based Out Patient Clinics. Emergency Mental Health is offered only at VA Hospitals. The VA covers WHERE to get help. This diary covers each step in HOW you can get Veterans help.

Many currently are being run like individual fiefdoms with their own rules and regulations - some of which conflict with laws governing their operation. When you are trying to help a Veteran in the middle of a mental health crisis ignore all that.

You have to deal with the reality you face to get the Veteran the care they need. The following has worked at all of those hospitals mentioned above.

To get immediate help for a Veteran fighting PTSD, call the following number:

1-800-273-8255 then press #1

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Thu Nov 13, 2014 at 06:18 AM PST

54,896 names on a wall


No not "The Wall" in Washington D.C.

I was listening to the BBC World service last night and there was a segment on Remembrance Day and how people remember. The last part was about the daily ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.

Its large Hall of Memory contains names on stone panels of 54,896 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Salient but whose bodies have never been identified or found. On completion of the memorial, it was discovered to be too small to contain all the names as originally planned. An arbitrary cut-off point of 15 August 1917 was chosen and the names of 34,984 UK missing after this date were inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing instead. The Menin Gate Memorial does not list the names of the missing of New Zealand and Newfoundland soldiers, who are instead honoured on separate memorials.
That's 89,880 who were missing.


Battles of Ypres, Three costly battles in World War I in western Flanders. In the first battle (Oct. 12–Nov. 11, 1914), the Germans were stopped on their march to the sea, but the Allied forces were then surrounded on three sides. The second battle (April 22–May 25, 1915) marked the Germans’ first use of poison gas as a weapon. In the third and longest battle (July 31–Nov. 6, 1917), also called the Battle of Passchendaele, the British were initially successful in breaking through the left wing of the German lines. The seasonal rains soon turned the Flanders countryside into an impassable swamp, but Gen. Douglas Haig persisted in his offensive. On November 6 Haig’s troops, including the Canadian Corps, occupied the ruins of Passchendaele, barely five miles from the start of the offensive. Total Allied and German casualties exceeded 850,000, including the deaths of 325,000 British soldiers.
Following the Menin Gate Memorial opening in 1927, the citizens of Ypres wanted to express their gratitude towards those who had given their lives for Belgium's freedom. As such, every evening at 20:00, buglers from the local fire brigade close the road which passes under the memorial and sound the "Last Post". Except for the occupation by the Germans in World War II when the daily ceremony was conducted at Brookwood Military Cemetery, in Surrey, England, this ceremony has been carried on uninterrupted since 2 July 1928. On the evening that Polish forces liberated Ypres in the Second World War, the ceremony was resumed at the Menin Gate despite the fact that heavy fighting was still taking place in other parts of the town.

Every freaking day!

Last Post - Menin Gate

Menin Gate 050906 002

Poppies Falling From the Menin Gate, Ypres

That my friends is dedication.

Reposted from Onomastic by Vetwife

 photo Quiltedhearts_zps3c11b2ee.jpg

The sound of thread being pulled through cloth whispers like a barely breathed prayer.

Through the years, Sara R and her sister winglion (Ann) have made thousands of prayers manifest. Our thoughts and caring have been transmuted by their loving hands into eloquent quilts that comfort and heal.  

In 2011, some of the quilts that Sara and Ann had created were portrayed as a "virtual quilt" in the image below by our own much loved and missed - ulookarmless. In the midst of his own health struggles, ulookarmless wanted to make sure that Sara and Ann knew how much their quilts meant to all who received them.

                        photo Saraquilt_zps1333a0da.jpg

Their healing hands have never stopped. Sara and Ann, with a little help from the rest of us, have made magic happen again and again, even in the darkest of times. As smileycreek eloquently said -

A scary diagnosis, a serious injury, a death in the family, caretaking a parent with Alzheimer's, living with cancer....all of it can feel lonely and isolating. In this online world of Daily Kos, though, we have genuine Healers named Sara R and winglion who fill that breach with something extraordinary:  A Community Quilt.
smileycreek and ulookarmless were far from the only ones to think so. Their diaries here on Dkos were filled with deeply moving testimonies from Kossacks who had received Sara's and Ann's quilts.


You said my quilt was to get me back in my bed. Well, it has done that. I still cry when I read the messages, since it is hard to believe people think such lovely things about me. That's the tears part. The laughter part is from the fabrics - some are smiles, and some even make me laugh. The screen saver on my phone is my dog on my quilt on my bed. Many, many thanks. ramara
It was unforgettable. First came the quilt diary and all the loving expressions of support from fellow Kossacks and then the arrival of Sara and Ann's quilt. Both lifted me up at THE lowest possible point in my life. Thank you Sara, Ann, and my dear, dear Daily Kos friends. Larry Bailey
I lived so much of my life aware of the notion - we live alone. When in a coma, I experienced time - and a greatly magnified sense not only of separation but of rejection, of inefficacy, of being undeserving of good company.

    I did not wake up to the quilt; it came later. After teary eyes from leaned-over loved ones, held hands and my own astonishment that I had been out of it for quite some time.... doubly so for it being nothing so long as it felt when under sedation. For it felt like years, not weeks.

    So, a few days later, as I am slowly clawing my way up to full consciousness, it arrives - this quilt, stitched together - I gather in quite a hurry - with a host of messages on it from a very large sampling of the Kossacks I knew. More would send messages in other ways - emails, texts, phone calls - a group sent some flowers.

    Over a year later I am back to thinking - we live alone. I have lost friends to death and to the death of affection since then. It was the same before but mourning comes more quickly and I fear I am easier with it now. I look at my hands and let them fall back on a quilt. And I squeeze the fabric tightly and wonder - did I come back wrong somehow? Or changed, in some way that no longer fits into the world?

    No, I just feel the joy and pain - all of it - more acutely. For I am aware that both can be taken suddenly, like breath before a dive under deep still water - and just as suddenly sweet delicious life can return. But one day the deep will claim us.

    Before then, take hold of the quilt of your friends. Don't disparage a single square. Don't find reason to think - oh, this one I can dismiss. It's not pretty or clever or useful enough.

    Do this at your peril. For a quilt is a social thing - just like your life.

    You cannot lose just one patch of it, without risking all.

    I had to go through this in silence and solitude. This course runs even now.

    But for a while, I surfaced from an abyss - and your hands were there to raise me back into the living. I don't plan on making such a need happen twice - the ride's not worth the ticket - but it meant the world to feel not just alive and human but part of a larger world.

    And to be able to weep tears of gratitude that the world welcomed me back. cskendrick


Winglion Quilts, Sara's and Ann's website, is replete with deeply felt testimonials, including from our own BeninSC.

...In my words ... you will never find an initiative within the Daily Kos community which helps its members as the Community Quilt Project does. Sara and Ann have no hope of becoming wealthy with this project, it is more a labor of love. Still, it is hard work and significant expense is involved. If you can make a contribution to support these pillars of our community, PLEASE do so! It is very important, and you will never find anyone on this site more deserving of your support than them...

...I want to say a few words about the quilt to those who have never experienced such a thing. I have thought about this for some time, and the first thing I thought of was Frosty the Snowman! You see, there must have been ... some magic in ... that old silk hat they found ... For when they placed it on his head ... he began to dance around. (Frosty the Snowman lyrics from here.)

I understand it all too well because I believe without reservation that a quilt like the one I received can be a receptacle for pure magic, channeled by the loving and very focused intent of special human beings. The right experts, such as Sara and Ann, have the ability to incorporate that magic in fabric form, to be conveyed to yet another, very blessed human being. For I assure you, when my quilt arrived on my doorstep, and I unpacked it, like our friend, Frosty, I did indeed begin to dance around!...    



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Reposted from Electronic America: Progressives Film, music & Arts Group by llbear
On September 1, 1939 the armed forces of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany invaded Poland with overwhelming force, lightning speed, and unprecedented ferocity.  World War II had begun and the term "Blitzkreig" would enter our vocabulary along with all the negative connotations it implied.  More than two decades earlier by August 1914, the idea of total war between great industrialized nations had already arrived with a vengeance. After one thousand, five hundred and fifty one days of intense fighting and almost nine million dead, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year 1918, the guns of war would finally fall silent.  World War I had come to an end but not before an entire generation of European men had been lost.  It was a brutal and destructive war - one whose global reverberations are felt even to this day.

This diary is not a comprehensive history of World War I.  It only explores some of the themes from that senseless war and the response of a few poets directly affected by it.  I first posted a version of this diary on Remembrance Day in 2012.  Every year I try to improve upon the diary.

Dulce Et Decorum Est
by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Death doesn't always have the last word.  What eludes the living - be it fame, fortune, or some other form of notoriety - is often only apparent after they have departed this good earth.

Wilfred Owen eventually came to be revered as one of the great British poets of World War I. In what is probably his most famous poem, he describes the futility of war and appalling conditions he experienced while surviving chemical gas attacks in trenches as a soldier during that most brutal of conflicts.  The poem's title was inspired by a line in one of the Odes of the ancient Roman poet, Horace. The Latin phrase Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori means "how sweet and fitting it is to die for one's country."  Even a cursory reading of the poem makes it obvious that an indignant Owen strongly disagrees with Horace and vigorously challenges that misguided notion of personal and imperial glory that Horace later came to be associated with.  

Owen had defiantly mocked the idea that there was honor in dying for one's own country. Ironically, that is exactly what he ended up doing.  After a stay at Craiglockhart War Hospital in late 1917, Owen returned to France to rejoin his military unit.  One week before the war would end, he was caught in a German machine gun attack and killed in action on November 4, 1918. On the day the war ended on November 11, 1918, the sound of church bells in Shrewsbury, England signaled the coming of the long-awaited peace.  At the home of his parents, the doorbell rang and a telegram informed them that Owen had been killed the week before.

Only 25 years old at the time of his death, Owen had planned to publish a collection of war poems in 1919.  In the book's preface, he had written

This book is not about heroes.  English Poetry is not yet fit to speak of them.  Nor is it about deeds, or lands, nor anything about glory, honour, might, majesty, dominion, or power, except war.  Above all I am not concerned with Poetry.  

My subject is War, and the pity of War.  The Poetry is in the pity. Yet these elegies are to this generation in no sense consolatory. They may be to the next.  All a poet can do today is warn. That is why true Poets must be truthful.

The haunting music in the above video is composer Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings."  It was first performed in 1938 by the NBC Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Arturo Toscanini in front of an invited radio studio audience in New York City.  One of President John F. Kennedy's favorite pieces of music, it was played on television upon the announcement of his death on November 22, 1963.  You can read a draft of the poem that Owen wrote while recuperating from shell shock at Craiglockhart War Hospital, near Edinburgh, Scotland in 1917.


When Will American Troops Return Home from Iraq?

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Reposted from teacherken by angelajean

federal employees have the day off.

There is a massive event that will disrupt DC area traffic tonight - the Concert for Valor.

I am likely to get a free coffee at my local Starbucks on my way to work as I did yesterday for being a Marine.

Today is a day where ostensibly we honor those who have served, even if many if us never were anywhere near a combat theater.  

Two things occur to me.

First, if we truly honor veterans we would fully fund their care before we put them in harm's way.  

Second, we should be moving in the direction of producing FEWER veterans, especially combat veterans, most especially disabled veterans.  We still waste lives and bodies in endeavors that are not necessary for the security of this nation.

I had to say that.

Because it is true.

But don't put that on the individual veteran.  Regardless of his or her (and there are increasing numbers of female veterans, including of combat experience) reasons for having joined, regardless if if s/he enlisted as did I or was drafted as were many until most of the way through Vietnam, s/he served.  We all surrendered some of our civil liberties while we wore the uniform in order that the civil liberties of the rest could be maintained.  That, and military discipline, were the reasons we were given.

We may have been enriched by the experience - not monetarily but in our understanding of other cultures if we served overseas, of other Americans among those with whom we served from different ethnicities and geographic settings, or in my case by my own self-understanding of both my strengths and weaknesses as a human being.

Honor veterans today.

Yes, thank us for our service.

But also do this - commit to the notion that we will NEVER waste the service of those who serve on our behalf.

Thank you.

And Peace.

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