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News Letter January 2007
“The Monthly Diamondhead”
January 2007
Editor-Reporter-Chief Cook-Web Slave-
Ron Leonard
918-429-0252
E- mail: webmaster@25thaviation.org
This page survives strictly on Donations, no Donations no exist.
Web Page Accounting as of NOW

Note:
Please Add Yourself to our electronic US MAP "Where We Are", then I can loose all these pins and flags on my wall

Company Stuff:

                           This month we brought several new people to the fold of long lost 25th Aviation Personnel. Newly found personnel:
              For the Little Bears we added Duane Gueller and that was it.
              For Diamondhead we Found Ray Knight ,Rusell Snearly ,Donald Horvath , Dwight Byrd.
                            For HHC we found Thomas Dickerson
              After doing quite a bit of research on our members past and present. It is evident that now more than 25% of us are pushing up daisies in a
              grave somewhere, or sitting in an urn on someone's mantle. Sad but true people, we are getting old.

Notifications:

We still have afew of our reunion coins available. There was only 100 made so they will be collectors items. If you want one let me know. They are $10 and the proceeds go into the reunion fund. If you have paypal, my account is webmaster@25thaviation.org,
or mail a check to

Ron Leonard
PO Box 1451
Krebs Ok
74554
The new Association patches will be out in 3 weeks, they are 12" in diameter and suitable to frame, or sew on the back of a jacket.
Cost is $15 each,  and includes shipping send a check or money order to :

Charlie Rodgers
                         12011 Las Nubes St.
                         San Antonio, TX 78233-5942


Ron

Pass the word - I have been accepted for voluntary recall to active duty. I report to Ft Jackson, SC on Feb 21, 2007. If I pass the physical and any training they may have I will be working at the Pentagon as a Logistics Office.

Smitty


January Sucked.

   On the 3rd a driver lost control of his truck, left the road and proceeded to smash into my house going 70MPH. His truck came to rest below the floor under my desk. It knocked the house off the foundation, destroyed much of my office and some equipment, bounced a 17” monitor off my head and shoulder…since I was sitting at the desk at the time, and sent me off for X-rays. As yet the Insurance Company has been playing hide and seek in settling up. That little confrontation put my family and I into a motel until they could patch it up enough to move back in almost two weeks later. See Pictures
     We had no more than moved back in and the “Mother Of All Ice Storms” struck. Depositing 3” of ice on everything. It snapped telephone poles like twigs, power lines were down, telephone was down, TV was down. The entire area was without power for ten days more or less. I had a little 950 watt Generator I use out camping, and managed to over tax it and the generator part croaked and I had to buy another one.
     FEMA showed up just days after the storm and made it a point to let everyone know it would going to be alright. Well now it is three weeks later and all they have done is approve the state to get aide to the counties, only four of twenty-three that were ravaged by the ice. Skuttle butt has it that that is all that is going to happen. Those individuals that couldn't go to work, had now power or means to cook, had no place to live were SOL and were on their own. Something is drastically wrong with that picture.
Click image to see more Ice Storm Pictures

The State of the Website

     This is the sixth anniversary since the beginning of the web page, and it has turned into something far beyond what even my own vivid imagination could have envisioned.

     Originally the page was designed simply to sort a CD full of pictures that George Smith had sent me so I could reminisce, and make sense of what and who they were, simply for me. The mission was to sort the pictures by occupation, location, aircraft, and site seeing etc, just like you find it today so I could identify them, that was it. Then I posted it to the internet for the ease of manipulating and sorting the pictures, and an unintentional web page was born.
     On that day Michelle Comerford discovered it through a friend of hers that sent me an e-mail asking a simple question, did I know her father Spook Grundman. I acknowledged that I didn't, but knew who he was and along the way had found some of his friends, so I forwarded her request on to Jim Dayton, who in turn forwarded it on to others who called her, and told her all about her father. She sent me another e-mail herself that simply state “You are my angel of the internet; you have given me a reason to live and my dad a reason for being”. That one statement nearly ripped my heart out. Now, I had touched the life of someone.

     From that day forward, the web page took on a life of its own and has gone in many different directions as needed along with it serving as my own therapy.
     It has enabled us from a humble beginning to enhance our reunion attendance, reunite old friends, answer many questions, help many students, and yes even help the VA by furnishing records directly to them to expedite claims.

     One hundred-one of us from our unit  and numerous others from other units now have their VA benefits that I am aware of that didn't have them in the beginning because of lack of proof, documentation, or know how to pursue the claims process.

     Students from all over the world now are getting answers and help in writing history papers on Vietnam, so they get it right.

     Brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, mothers, fathers and friends are able to find out exactly what happened to their loved ones from first hand information by those of us that were there.

     It has allowed grunts that we assisted in Vietnam an avenue to say thank you for many things, from bringing them timely ammunition and supplies, to saving their lives, and dusting them off when injured.

     It has allowed us a venue to write and post our stories so we can reconstruct much of our history from first hand knowledge.

     A working relationship has been developed with the 25th Museum in Hawaii and Texas Tech University that helps us share information on the 25th Infantry Division and enables our ongoing history project to move along with timely additions to our After Action Report files.

     Through the history project we have developed a good camaraderie with our modern day 25th Aviation Regiment counterparts, who one day will have to take this project and move it on to the next level after I am gone. Presently they are serving near Baghdad in Iraq.

     For a better understanding, I suggest reading the “Letters From You “section of the web page. Then it will become crystal clear the impact the web page has had on so many.

     Where is it going in the future? Only time will tell.

Thank you for your support and encouragement

Sincerely

Ron Leonard
Webmaster


“Courage is the common thread that runs through these stories. The Letters brought me, quite literally, to the doorsteps of the quietly courageous. I have always been struck by the savagery and randomness of the blows that lacerate some lives. I am in awe of the courage it takes to go on.

Rarely do we notice the triumphs that are forged by putting one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Did we ever really know that each bullet that took a life in Vietnam stopped several other lives here dead in their tracks? The flag on the coffin covered only the obvious tragedy.

It wasn't just the bodies that were buried, it was the dreams. "I was supposed to marry Joey Sintoni in 1969," remembers Angela Matthews. "I didn't find it easy to progress to Plan B. Marriage was killed in action."

When I began this journey, I expected to encounter people who would be unable to talk about the person they loved who died in Vietnam. I thought these people would most likely be mothers, but I was wrong. They were the brothers and sisters. I think their trauma is the least expressed. I think siblings are the least understood victims of the Vietnam War.

Their own needs were underestimated in the avalanche of emotion that descended on their families. Society expects mothers to fall apart and grieve. At least initially, there is a lot of support for a woman who loses a child. But brothers and sisters are told they have their whole life ahead of them. They do not always get a chance to grieve adequately for the part of their life that is behind.”


If you have copies of your decoration write-ups, I would appreciate a copy of them for our archives. Those write-ups pinpoint a day in the time of our history, which we were supporting, and what was happening. It is impossible for me to re construct our history just off the Daily Journals and grunt After Action Reports, since they are not specific to what we were doing.



Care Packages:

                             The 25th Aviation Regiment is  deployed to Iraq as we speak, so how about it send them a little something from us old guys. It will be apppreciated.
CSM Rob Felder or LTC Frank Tate
TF 2-25th Avn
FOB Speicher
APO AE 09393

History:
We have approached a very special point in time. There is a window open to us to tell our stories, to get our side of the story told. Every day this window gets smaller, as can be attested to by the number of our members that have left us since coming home. If you can all just take the time to sit down, and write that one good story, send it to me so I can record it. This way the historical events are not forgotten. Don't worry about it being perfect, I can fix it up for you.

Reunions:

Association Reunion San Antonio 2008,

The Tropic Lighting Association Reunion will be held in San Antonio, in  November 2008. The planning is underway and the particulars will be made available soon.

2007 Annual Fishing Trip in Alaska
 As it was this year it will take place on the Kenai Peninsula. September is a great time, the leaves are changing, the Silver Salmon are plentiful, the crowds of tourists are gone, and huge rainbow trout are on the prowl. They run up to 35” and there are many of them. The Kenai River is without a doubt the premier trout stream on the continent. If you are interested let me know and I will start figuring out an Itinerary and make it happen once more.

2007 Welcome Home For Troops in Iraq
August or Sept in Hawaii…I will keep you posted

2007 Littlebear Association Reunion Wednesday, April 25th through Sunday, April 29th in Williamsburg Virginia click here for details

2007 VHCMA REUNION will be in ORLANDO, FLORIDA June 20-24,  click here for details

Letters:

Hi everyone.

I'm still alive but freezing my tail off. We got 8 inches of snow last week and it reached 5 degrees below zero that night. That's not why I'm e-mailing though.

You may have heard about a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul last Thursday. It was at one of our FOB's (Forward Observation Bases) about 27 miles from here.

But the real story is why no one was killed.
We employ several thousand Afghans on our various bases. Not to mention the economy that is fed by the money these locals are making.

Some are laborers and builders, but some are skilled workers. We even have one Afghan that just became OSHA qualified, the first ever. Some are skilled HVAC workers.
Anyway, there is this one Afghan that we call Rambo. We have actually given him a couple of sets of the new ACU uniforms (the new Army digital camouflage) with the name tag RAMBO on it.

His entire family was killed by the Taliban and his home was where our base currently resides. So this guy really had nowhere else to go.

He has reached such a level of trust with US Forces that his job is to stand at the front gate and basically be the first security screening.

Since he can't have a weapon, he found a big red pipe. So he stands there at the front gate in his US Army ACU uniform with his red pipe.

If a vehicle approaches the gate too fast or fails to stop he slams his pipe down on their hood.

Then once the gate is lifted the vehicle moves on the 2nd gate where the US Army MP's are. So he's like the first line of defense.

Last Thursday at 0930 hrs a Toyota Corolla packed with exp losives and some Jack Ass that thinks he has 72 Virgins waiting for him approached the gate.

When he saw Rambo he must have recognized him and known the gig was up.
But he needed to get to that 2nd gate to detonate and take American lives. So he slams his foot on the gas which almost causes the metal gate to go up but mostly catches on the now broken windshield.

Rambo fearlessly ran to the vehicle, reached thru the window and jerked the suicide bomber out of the vehicle before he could detonate and commenced to putting some red pipe to his heathen ass.

He detained the guy until the MP got there.
The vehicle only exploded when they tried to push it off base with a robot but know one was hurt.

I'm still waiting for someone to give this guy a medal or something. Nothing less than instant US citizenship or something.

A hat was passed around and a lot of money was given to him in thanks by both soldiers and civilians that are working over here.

I guess I just wanted to share this because I want people to know that it's working over here.

They have tasted freedom. This makes it worth it to me.

JOHN W. HUNT, CPT , US ARMY

Operations Officer

Bagram Afghanistan

john.w.hunt@baf.afgn.army.mil



Hi Guys:

Sorry I have been such a recluse. Some things have been going on and with work and stuff it seems like I never have enough time to get emails out to anyone. Grandma I got your package I really appreciated all the goodies and I ended up sharing with my buddies. I play grandpa's games from time to time sure do bring back some memories. Please be sure to thank the members of the First Methodist Church for the box they sent as well. Hey this army account is being a real pain in my behind so please email me from now on at Hoffert17@yahoo.com I have to change my password every 3 days because of new security measures so it's just easier to check my yahoo. I will write more when I get the time.

Chris


 Thanksgiving in Iraq with our Guys



Medical and VA Issues:

Law service for vets lauded on first day
By Lex Alexander

A free clinic in Durham that provides legal help to veterans opened its doors Friday and caught a client from the other side of the world.

A servicewoman living in Japan who spent her career working around jets is now being told that her deafness is not service-related, Craig Kabatchnick says.

Kabatchnick, a former Veterans Affairs litigator who lives in Greensboro and practices in Durham, will serve as the supervising attorney for the Veterans Legal Project at N.C. Central University's law school in Durham.

The clinic, staffed this semester by about 15 N.C. Central law students and an additional 25 from nearby UNC-Chapel Hill, instantly becomes the largest free law-school clinic for veterans' disability issues in the country.

In exchange for volunteering 45 hours during the semester, Kabatchnick says, students will get academic credit and be instructed in every stage of handling a disability claim, from preparation and submission of the claim to litigating the case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in Washington. The law permits law students supervised by a competent attorney to handle such cases in many areas.

Veterans have complained about long delays and incomprehensible bureaucratic problems in getting disability compensation and pension payments to which they think they're entitled.

The delay accusation, according to the VA's own Web site, is undeniable. As of Jan. 13, more than 606,000 such claims were pending nationwide, according to the Web site, up from 535,000 a year ago. Of those 606,000, almost 28 percent had been pending more than 180 days, the VA's goal for average time required to adjudicate a case. That's up from 24 percent a year ago.

The issue is important nationally, but particularly so in North Carolina, where more people leave the service than almost any other state.
The clinic is a good fit for N.C. Central: It's close to a VA hospital in Durham, where many clients are likely to come from. And the work fits with N.C. Central's mission to serve "traditionally underserved" segments of the community, such as the poor and minorities.

Veterans with multiple legal problems also may be referred to one of N.C. Central's eight other clinics for help on such issues as wills and estates or family law.

Although the clinic is intended primarily to serve North Carolina residents, it also will review cases from people elsewhere, Kabatchnick says.

"I'm really overwhelmed from the responses we've been getting ... from folks who have relatives who were veterans who say, 'Thank you so much for doing this,'" said Pam Glean, who supervises N.C. Central's legal clinics and is seeking funding to extend the clinic beyond this semester. "They're very appreciative and eager to see this project work."

At least some students will bring firsthand knowledge of the issues to their work. One is second-year law student Robert Hogarth, who served 10 years on active duty as an Army infantryman and paratrooper and remains in the National Guard while attending law school.

"As a noncommissioned officer, taking care of soldiers is a part of what I did; it was part of my job," said Hogarth, 36. "This clinic seemed like a natural extension of that. … For me, it felt like a good way to continue (my service) and to reach out to the younger veterans from our conflicts overseas and assist them any way that I could."
Contact Lex Alexander at 373-7088 or lalexander@news-record.com


Post-traumatic futility disorder
By Mark Benjamin


Dec. 21, 2006 | Corey Davis, a machine gunner with the Army's 2nd Infantry Division, has a simple description of what was expected of him during his yearlong tour of duty in Iraq.

"Pretty much," said Davis, who was assigned to protect a road used as a supply route, "our job was to get fired at or have IEDs [improvised explosive devices] blow up on us."
Davis left the Army in October and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Since he returned to the States in August 2006, he has been troubled by thoughts about the futility of day-to-day tactics in Iraq, where several of his friends died. "This was just for us to make the route secure. You would think a human being would be more valuable than a supply route ... What the hell did we do all that for?"

A lot more soldiers may soon be asking similar questions. This week, even as former Secretary of State Colin Powell lamented that "the active Army is about broken" from repeated combat tours, President Bush announced that he is thinking about sending as many as 30,000 more troops to Iraq. Nearly simultaneously, the Army released a study that suggests that those troops who have served more than one tour of duty -- true of a large percentage of all military personnel -- are 50 percent more likely to suffer from acute combat stress, a possible precursor to PTSD.

According to experts contacted by Salon, however, there is another overlooked risk factor likely to lead to a high rate of PTSD among those troops already in Iraq or yet to be "surged" there. As the U.S. mission in Iraq has morphed from overthrowing Saddam into a vague cross between nation building and refereeing a civil war, returning soldiers like Davis express a growing disenchantment with that mission. Questioning the mission is a psychological liability on the battlefield -- and such disillusionment means that American soldiers in Iraq are at greater risk of developing PTSD.

In a series of interviews, some of the nation's experts on psychological injuries pointed to a little-known and rarely studied connection between demoralization and exacerbated mental trauma from war, which can include a diagnosis of PTSD. Another Army study earlier this year showed that an alarming 35 percent of Iraq veterans sought help in military facilities for mental problems in the first year after their return. Experts think that the deteriorating sense of mission could worsen the incidence of PTSD and exacerbate its symptoms.

There is remarkable unanimity among experts on the issue, largely based on their experiences treating veterans. "When people have grave doubts about whether it was all worthwhile, it may make their psychological problems worse," explained Dr. Arthur S. Blank Jr., who helped pioneer the diagnosis of PTSD after the Vietnam War. Even those who question the pervasiveness of PTSD accept the connection between mental health and a belief in the military's mission. Sally Satel, a psychiatrist and resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, has drawn fire from veterans' groups and some of her medical colleagues for claiming that PTSD might not be as widespread as some data suggests. But on the connection between disillusionment and PTSD, Satel and her peers agree. "Demoralization, or the difficulty of making meaning of a task, is one of the risk factors," Satel confirmed in an interview.

PTSD in veterans is a delayed response to the trauma that occurs when the brain's normal processing functions are overwhelmed by the extreme images and experiences of war. "Think of PTSD as a processing deficiency disorder," explained Blank, who for 12 years ran a network of government centers that treated a half million veterans with PTSD. "The mind and the brain are overwhelmed by the experiences, and they get registered inside in odd ways."

The improperly encoded data can haunt veterans for the rest of their lives, disrupting sleep patterns and altering mood and personality, even tinkering with the central nervous system. Veterans with PTSD sometimes have a hypersensitive startle reflex. Researchers are now examining a slate of physical "biomarkers" -- such as long-term physiological changes in the brain and alterations in brain structure -- that suggest a biological basis for PTSD.

On the battlefield, a strong sense of commitment can act as mental insulation from the stress that causes PTSD. "Some sense of conviction about what one is doing can be psychologically useful," said author and psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton. The absence of conviction, on the other hand, "makes it more difficult to take in the death or inwardly justify the very extreme kind of trauma you are going through."

Once a soldier has returned home, an enduring belief in the mission helps the brain think about what happened and file it away properly. Without a strong commitment, images are more likely to remain improperly processed and return as flashbacks, one of the hallmarks of PTSD.

PTSD became an official disorder only in 1980, when it was first included in the American Psychiatric Association's "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders." There is limited data on mental trauma from Korea and World War II. The Vietnam War -- a war that resembles Iraq in many ways, including the duration of the conflict and the ambivalence of its combatants -- is the first conflict for which extensive PTSD data is available. By the time of a 1988 survey, 31 percent of Vietnam veterans reported experiencing symptoms of PTSD at some point after their combat duty

Among the soldiers who have fought in Iraq, "disillusionment" often refers to nuts-and-bolts concerns about the way the war is being conducted on a day-to-day basis. Some soldiers, like Davis, describe the Sisyphean quality of endlessly repeated vehicle patrols through the same Iraqi neighborhoods, punctuated by unpredictable, violent attacks, with no productive results. The lack of progress on the ground is bad news for the mental health of troops, according to psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, the author of "Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming" and an advisor to the Army on personnel issues. "The soldier in a fight needs to know that his direct leaders and his direct leaders' bosses know what they are doing and are doing something really, truly worthwhile when they send them into these situations."

In another echo of America's other recent protracted war, endlessly repeated patrols are themselves a PTSD risk factor. In Iraq, the soldiers are making the rounds in vehicles, and death comes from roadside bombs. Decades earlier in Vietnam, they patrolled on foot through ambushes and booby traps. In both wars, the troops were there to draw fire. They were as likely to feel like the hunted as to feel like hunters, leading to combat stress and PTSD. "It's not new for American soldiers to feel like sitting ducks," Lifton says. He calls what the troops experience on patrol "the psychology of helplessness."
When the troops return home, they share something else with their Vietnam-era predecessors. Researchers agree that what they call a "lack of social support" from family, friends and community upon a soldier's discharge is considered a risk factor for the development of PTSD. After Vietnam, many veterans felt spurned by the American public. While there is no shortage of "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers nowadays, troops returning from Iraq report feeling disoriented and isolated by an American public that seems detached from, even uninterested in, the wrenching experience of the grunt in Iraq. That kind of culture shock, Shay said, is "often experienced like a kick in the stomach."
To date, the government has shown no indication that it wants to study the psychological impact on soldiers of mission drift and disillusionment. There may be, as Shay put it, "a strong sense among veterans and the people who work with them that meaning is a crucial issue," but the federal government has tended to shy away from looking at it. Blank, for one, thinks that's due to political considerations.

Despite nearly a week of phone calls and e-mails, Army medical officials failed to make anyone available to Salon to discuss the issue. Ira Katz, deputy chief patient care services officer for mental health at the Department of Veterans Affairs, did speak with Salon. Not surprisingly, he seemed much more circumspect than the nongovernmental experts about any relationship between disenchantment and mental wounds. He emphasized that such a correlation has not been thoroughly studied. "I don't think it is proven," Katz said. He then suggested that it might not even be worth studying. "Why does it matter? ... Our job is to treat suffering and impairment." (The outside experts also argue that discussing serious disenchantment with PTSD-afflicted veterans should be an important part of their therapy. Katz disagreed.)

The government's attitude toward exploring a soldier's sense of purpose as part of PTSD research was apparent as long ago as 1988. That year, the landmark survey of PTSD known as the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study produced the estimate that 31 percent of the veterans will show signs of PTSD at some point in their lifetime. (A controversial reanalysis of the data earlier this year revised the figure downward to about 20 percent.) Part of the study included responses from thousands of Vietnam veterans to a questionnaire.

Blank, who ran the network of V.A. treatment centers, worked on that study and oversaw the development of the questionnaire. But because the study was conducted with federal funds, the questions had to be vetted by the White House Office of Management and Budget. More than a decade after the last combat death in Vietnam, the Reagan administration apparently still balked at questions that had to do with disillusionment. The OMB removed them from the questionnaire. "The government is reluctant to study this factor," Blank said.

But there may be less politically charged reasons for the lack of information. "Part of it," Shay said, "might have been that if we ask these questions, it might make somebody look bad." Yet he also noted that mental states are difficulty to quantify. You can count, say, the number of people a soldier believes he killed. But how do you measure disillusionment? In a scientific study, Shay noted, there is "a constant suction toward measurability" and away from topics that seem too squishy to quantify.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the military's top brass is considering some major tactical changes. The focus on combating insurgents and deploying repetitive vehicle patrols may shift to supporting Iraqi troops and hunting terrorists. Perhaps new strategies and tactics will result in a renewed sense of mission among the troops -- and any new strategies and tactics could help the troops who may soon be headed to Iraq. They come too late, however, to make much difference to the thousands of soldiers who have already served in Iraq and are now wrestling with what was asked of them.

GAO REPORT: VA CAN IMPROVE ITS PROCEDURES FOR OBTAINING  MILITARY RECORDS --

 "To improve timeliness in deciding PTSD claims, VBA should assess whether it could systematically utilize an electronic library of historical military records to identify veterans whose PTSD claims can be granted on the basis of information contained in such a library..."

This is interesting reading...good advice for the VBA on how to save lots of time and help speed up claims.
Full report here... http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d0798.pdf
Highlights here... http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d0798high.pdf
Highlights below:

Why GAO Did This Study

The Ranking Democratic Member, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, asked GAO to determine (1) whether VA's internal assessments indicate its regional offices are complying with the requirements of the Veterans Claims Assistance Act (VCAA) of 2000 for obtaining military service records for veterans' disability compensation claims and (2) whether VBA could improve its procedures for obtaining military service records for claims involving post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What GAO Found

The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) internal assessments indicate its regional offices generally comply with VCAA's requirements for obtaining military service records for veterans' compensation claims. For example, of the decisions made by regional offices on compensation claims during the first half of fiscal year 2006, Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) quality reviewers found that less than 4 percent contained errors involving failure to obtain military service records. Similarly, of the appealed compensation cases decided by the Board of Veterans' Appeals during November 2004-January 2006, the board remanded less than 3 percent to VBA for rework due to deficiencies in obtaining military service records. However, VBA does not systematically evaluate the quality of research done on behalf of regional offices by a VBA unit at the National Personnel Records Center, where the service records of many veterans are stored. Regional offices rely on this unit to do thorough and reliable searches and analyses of records and provide accurate reports on the results. Without a systematic program for assessing the quality of this unit's work, VBA does not know the extent to which the information that this unit provides to regional offices is reliable and accurate.

VBA potentially could improve its procedures and reduce the time required to process some veterans' claims for PTSD, which may result after a veteran participates in, or is exposed to, stressful events or experiences (stressors). Regional offices sometimes must turn to information contained in the military historical records of the Department of Defense (DOD) to verify the occurrence of claimed stressors. While regional offices are able to directly access and search an electronic library of such records for many Marine Corps veterans, they must rely on DOD's U.S. Army and Joint Services Records Research Center (JSRRC) to research such records for all other service branches. The JSRRC's response time to regional office requests approaches an average of 1 year. However, by building on work already done by several regional offices to establish and use an electronic library of DOD military historical records for the other service branches, VBA may be able to greatly reduce the time required to process many veterans' PTSD claims.
What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that VA take the following actions.

To ensure the quality of research done on behalf of regional offices by VBA's records research unit at the National Personnel Records Center, VBA should implement a systematic quality review program to evaluate and measure the accuracy of the unit's responses to regional office research requests.

To improve timeliness in deciding PTSD claims, VBA should assess whether it could systematically utilize an electronic library of historical military records to identify veterans whose PTSD claims can be granted on the basis of information contained in such a library, rather than submitting all research requests to DOD's Joint Services Records Research Center.

VA concurred with our findings and recommendations.

No Shit!!…I have been supplying an “Electronic Library” for 6 years to help our guys. In many cases start to finish the claims process was less than six months, requests for documents were immediate, not a year, the failure rate is zero, Why? Because I know what I'm doing and what records are critical.

I approached the Government for a grant to expand on what I was doing and got the reply “We paid the Historians in Vietnam to do that”, and we are not going to pay for it again.

So  I spent thousands of my own dollars to make it happen.

Fast Forward to 2003.….I supplied my records to the VA (15,000 + pages) to be scanned into their system to assist 25th Veterans with claims. They are in Chicago at the Regional Office. If anyone needs an official copy of what I have on the web page, it is already on file in Chicago. Make sure you tell your rep that.

I did that out of the goodness of my heart to help speed up the claims.

Why? Because I could, and make a difference in someones life.

Why for Free?  

1. Because I couldn't get a grant, and saw no use in wasting our lives waiting when the Government refused to help in any way. They wouldn't even trade records I had for records they had that I needed. I had to buy them at sometimes .75 cents per page. Some reports are hundreds of pages each.

2. Because I couldn't sleep at night if I could have helped someone speed things along and didn`t.

Ron

Inconsistency skews vets' disability pay

By Lex Alexander
Staff Writer


David Best of Fayetteville developed knee pain while serving in the Army in Korea during the Vietnam War.

That pain turned out to be a symptom of osteoarthritis in his hip. But the Department of Veterans Affairs has denied Best's disability claim, saying he had suffered no knee injury while in service and knee X-rays taken then were negative.

But the doctor who found Best's arthritis several years ago took one look at his hip X-rays and told him, "Wow, they should have found this 25 years ago."

"The VA is obligated to choose the diagnostic code that will yield the highest disability rating," says Best's attorney, Craig Kabatchnick of Greensboro, who defended the department against disability claims in the early 1990s. "In fact, the VA is doing the opposite: They're finding ways to give the lowest rating possible. They're finding excuses to do it. That's a tactic we used to use."

Best's case illustrates a long-standing problem with the department's disability system: Inconsistent or inaccurate disability ratings threaten the financial and medical security of the nation's veterans. The issue particularly concerns North Carolina because more service members are discharged here than in almost any other state.

The department's disability rating system has remained essentially the same since World War II, despite rapid change in everything from the labor market to prosthetic limbs.

But the problem is magnified by inconsistency and inaccuracy despite congressional investigators' repeated recommendations for improvements.

As a result, not only could veterans be denied money to which they're entitled, they also could be pushed farther back in line for VA-supplied health care. That's because disability ratings determine eligibility and priority for many treatments.

At the other extreme, the inconsistencies leave the department vulnerable to fraud.

The problems are so bad that in January 2003 the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, designated the department's disability compensation and pension program as "high risk." That designation identifies programs either vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement or facing major problems with their economy, efficiency or effectiveness.

The department has not responded to e-mailed questions about the disability program.

Says Kabatchnick, "It's a real mess."

The ratings system for disabilities, in place with only minor changes since 1945, aims to compensate for the average impairment of earning capacity in civil occupations caused by an injury or disorder.

It is based on the nature and extent of a veteran's physical injuries or dysfunctions, or how well or poorly the veteran functions with a mental disorder. The rating scale runs in increments of 10 from 0 (no disability) to 100 (totally impaired or disabled). The rating translates into monthly disability payments of between $115 and $2,471 - more if a veteran supports a spouse or children.

The static and subjective nature of the system has drawn criticism for decades, but the most significant alarm might have been sounded in 1997 by the nonprofit National Academy of Public Administration. That group called on the department to set consistency standards and to test how well standards were being met, either through its quality-review process or by sending identical test cases to regional offices for rating.

But in August 2002, the GAO noted that the VA still wasn't grappling with the differences among regional offices or inconsistent decisions on particular types of disability ratings. It recommended that the department begin doing so. The VA said it would; however, the GAO noted, it "did not describe how it will measure consistency and evaluate progress in reducing any inconsistencies it may find."

The VA has resisted other recommendations from the GAO, as noted in the January 2003 "high-risk" report. There, the GAO again called on the VA to update its disability ratings. But Anthony J. Principi, then secretary of veterans affairs, refused, saying the existing standards were "equitable."

The VA also has struggled with rating accuracy, which is assessed through reviewing randomly selected cases.

Kabatchnick, the attorney, said certain types of errors are common, and most work to the detriment of veterans.

For example, a VA employee may require a veteran's case to meet all criteria for a particular disability rating, even though the rating schedule requires him to meet only one.

"A vet with asthma can get a lower rating because he uses an inhaler, even though all that does is relieve the symptoms," Kabatchnick said.

The VA also frequently will assign lower disability ratings based on criteria that aren't part of the official rating system, he said.

"The VA takes the liberty to deny rating increases on the grounds that the vet has not taken medicine for his condition or hasn't been hospitalized recently for his disabilities," Kabatchnick said. "These criteria aren't part of the rating schedule."

Beginning in fiscal 2002, the VA focused its assessment of quality on whether benefits were correctly granted or denied, rather than on technical issues that might not affect a ruling on benefits. Despite that more lenient standard, the department's accuracy rate fell from 89 percent to 81 percent.

The inconsistencies in rating gained national attention in December 2004, when the Chicago Sun-Times published VA data showing that the average annual payment per disabled veteran varied from $6,710 in Ohio to $10,851 in New Mexico.

The report came just weeks after the GAO had recommended that the VA use computerized records to identify inconsistencies in disability ratings and identify medical conditions most likely to result in those variations.

In October 2005, the GAO told Congress that the VA had taken neither action.

And there is no record in subsequent GAO or inspector-general reports that those changes have been made.


Contact Lex Alexander at 373-7088 or lalexander@news-record.com


The Aftermath Of War-Coping with PTSD
http://groups.msn.com/AftermathofwarcopingwithPTSDtoo/welcome.msnw


War Stories:

Spring 1966 Long Range Patrol
 by Jerry Conners

A Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol was formed from members of the 1st Bn (ABN) 8th Cav Recon platoon and attached to division headquarters in the spring of 1966 as directed by the Department of Defense where seven LRRP teams from the US Army Special Forces, US Marine Corps, Navy and other Army units were established to conduct simultaneous patrols within the Republic of Vietnam.

The Chinese Bandit five man team members were SSG Robert Grimes (Acting Platoon Leader of the Recon Platoon), SGT J Conners, Keijo Hyvonen, Louis Tyler, and Terry Stevens. The first long range patrol was conducted along a 75 km route adjacent to the Cambodian and Laotian borders for a period of twelve days and was performed while the other DOD directed teams performed LRRP patrols in other portions of Vietnam. The major objective of the patrol was to locate North Vietnamese positions that had been reported along the border and to obtain specific essential elements of information that included descriptions of the enemy's uniforms, weapons, communication and other equipment and the presence of any Caucasian personnel.

We wore a mixture of uniforms including standard issue jungle fatigues, WWII vintage camouflage fatigues and 'tiger fatigues'. All members wore patrol caps, LBE with two canteens, two ammo pouches, one butt pack and carried M-16 rifles (taped with slings removed) with bayonets. Two members of the patrol also wore NVA captured rucksacks. Only one 35mm camera and two sets of binoculars were carried. The first LRRP rations were issued and each member carried 6 after removing the outer package and discarding everything except the main dehydrated meal. We intended to only eat one meal per day and our diet was supplemented by a variety of foods including `jungle chocolate candy bars'. Only one PRC-25 radio was carried; however, a vertical half-rhombic antenna was carried in addition to the two other standard antennas. Only one SOI was carried and used to prepare the coded daily reports what were transmitted. No fragmentation grenades were carried and only two smoke grenades, one by both Grimes and myself. Several of us wore the 101st Recondo School taped soap dish containing sutures, morphine and other emergency medical items secured to our LBE harness. All members of the patrol had a wound piece of `550 chord' secured to our harness with a 2000 pound tensile strength snap link.

SSG Grimes and I drove a jeep to Division G-2 where captured NVA equipment was stacked in front of the entrance. We were given a briefing that included descriptions of the area we were to patrol and the locations of suspected NVA regiments. We were instructed to recommend and plot our routes and request for pre-arranged fire support after Grimes flew a low reconnaissance of the area in an OH-13. Grimes and I returned to the Battalion area and tentatively selected the routes and observation points from the supplied topographic maps and aerial photographs. We gave the LRRP patrol members a warning order prior to Grimes performing the reconnaissance flight. Upon his return we discussed what he had observed and did not alter our intended routes. The entire patrol participated in the preparation of the operations order that was later given by SSG Grimes. There were no rehearsals performed and the time prior to departure was spent studying maps and checking equipment.

We were inserted about two hours before nightfall using one UH-1 that made only one descent and hover for unloading located near an active and believed to be safe farming area located about 25 km east of the area where we would be operating. We moved rapidly into the tree covered mountainous at the southern limit of the patrol area and proceed through the night to our first observation and study area.

Movement, consisting of walking the approximately 18 hour point to point routes, was intended to be limited to late evening and night navigation with daily situation reports were made in the early morning to airborne Airforce aircraft from positions selected on mountain tops that afforded the opportunity to observe long distances. Rising smoke from what was believed to be cooking fires was plotted on the topographic maps that we carried; however, the planned patrol route was not altered and these sightings were not evaluated from close range. We remained on game trails during most of the movements between observation points. We did not expect the enemy to establish ambush sites or set out mines and booby traps in these areas that were believed to be only occupied by NVA troops. On several occasions we discovered enemy boot prints at stream and trail junctions but not along the trail routes that we were following. We wore issued jungle boots and altered our routes to avoid trails with damp and soft surfaces where our boots would have made an impression. This was difficult to achieve during night movement.

An emergency extraction was necessary when Tyler became unconscious with a malaria fever. At the risk of compromising our location, we requested a single UH-1 to a small tree lined hilltop where we used a rope hoist secured to Tyler's snap link to lift him from a rock to the skids of the hovering helicopter where the crew were able to grab and lift him onboard. After the aircraft departed, we moved quickly along a game trail down to a valley and up to another mountain ridge where we `lay-dogged' until nightfall and then resumed our patrol as planned.

We were able to zig-sag along our planned routes and complete the daily observation reports from the pre-selected observation points. Close enemy observation was only made on the last day of the patrol where we were to be extracted by two UH-1s from an area located in the northern limits of the patrol area. Eight NVA were found gathering firewood with their rifles leaning against one tree. That encounter will be described in a separate writing.

We were extracted by two UH-1s from a LZ which we had occupied for an entire morning. The areas and trails leading into the LZ were reconned by different team members and we were certain that no enemy troops were within several miles. The UH-1s arrived mid-day and on time and we dove aboard the helicopters and returned to base camp where we requested and were given ice cream, milk and different meals while we prepared our combined de-briefing report that was given by Grimes to G-2 and other division staff late that afternoon. No other LRRP members accompanied him. When he returned, he informed us that everyone was surprised that we had not become lost since the other six teams had more difficulty navigating. When he and I were alone, he asked, “Would you like to dye your skin brown, put on black pajamas and parachute into North Vietnam?” “We have a chance to be the first `Sting-Ray' team.

Grimes and I were excited about the possibility of forming a special unit that would conduct long-range patrols in SE Asia. Later division LRRP patrols were conducted by members of the Recon platoon in the summer of 1966, but I never spoke to Grimes about `Sting-Ray' teams again and have been unable to locate him.

The following is the INTRODUCTION to the book, Cheers and Tears by Lt. Gen. Charles Cooper, USMC (Ret.).
This chapter was provided by Lt. Gen. Cooper


INTRODUCTION


The Day It Became the Longest War

"The President will see you at two o'clock."

It was a beautiful fall day in November of 1965, early in the Vietnam War-too beautiful a day to be what many of us, anticipating it, had been calling "the day of reckoning." We didn't know how accurate that label would be.

The Pentagon is a busy place. Its workday starts early-especially if, as the expression goes, "there's a war on." By seven o'clock, the staff of Admiral David L. McDonald, the Navy's senior admiral and Chief of Naval Operations, had started to work. Shortly after seven, Admiral McDonald arrived and began making final preparations for a meeting with President
Lyndon Baines Johnson.

The Vietnam War was in its first year, and its uncertain direction troubled Admiral McDonald and the other service chiefs. They'd had a number of disagreements with Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara about strategy, and had finally requested a private meeting with the Commander in Chief-a perfectly legitimate procedure. Now, after many delays, the Joint Chiefs were finally to have that meeting. They hoped it would determine whether the US military would continue its seemingly directionless buildup to fight a protracted ground war, or take bold measures that would bring the war to
an early and victorious end. The bold measures they would propose were to apply massive air power to the head of the enemy, Hanoi, and to close North Vietnam's harbors by mining them.

The situation was not a simple one, and for several reasons. The most important reason was that North Vietnam's neighbor to the north was communist China. Only 12 years had passed since the Korean War had ended in stalemate. The aggressors in that war had been the North Koreans. When the North Koreans' defeat had appeared to be inevitable, communist China had sent hundreds of thousands of its Peoples' Liberation Army "volunteers" to
the rescue.

Now, in this new war, the North Vietnamese aggressor had the logistic support of the Soviet Union and, more to the point, of neighboring communist China. Although we had the air and naval forces with which to paralyze North Vietnam, we had to consider the possible reactions of the Chinese and the Russians.

Both China and the Soviet Union had pledged to support North Vietnam in the "war of national liberation" it was fighting to reunite the divided country, and both had the wherewithal to cause major problems. An important unknown was what the Russians would do if f prevented from delivering goods to their communist protégé in Hanoi. A more important question concerned communist China, next-door neighbor to North Vietnam. How would the Chinese react to a massive pummeling of their ally? More specifically, would they enter the war as they had done in North Korea? Or would they let the Vietnamese, for
centuries a traditional enemy, fend for themselves? The service chiefs had considered these and similar questions, and had also asked the Central Intelligence Agency for answers and estimates.

The CIA was of little help, though it produced reams of text, executive summaries of the texts, and briefs of the executive summaries-all top secret, all extremely sensitive, and all of little use. The principal conclusion was that it was impossible to predict with any accuracy what the Chinese or Russians might do.

Despite the lack of a clear-cut intelligence estimate, Admiral McDonald and the other Joint Chiefs did what they were paid to do and reached a conclusion. They decided unanimously that the risk of the Chinese or Soviets reacting to massive US measures taken in North Vietnam was acceptably low, but only if we acted without delay. Unfortunately, the Secretary of Defense and his coterie of civilian "whiz kids" did not agree with the Joint Chiefs, and McNamara and his people were the ones who were actually steering military strategy. In the view of the Joint Chiefs, the United States was piling on forces in Vietnam without understanding the consequences. In the view of McNamara and his civilian team, we were doing the right thing. This was the fundamental dispute that had caused the
Chiefs to request the seldom-used private audience with the Commander in Chief in order to present their military recommendations directly to him. McNamara had finally granted their request.

The 1965 Joint Chiefs of Staff had ample combat experience. Each was serving in his third war. The Chairman was General Earle Wheeler, US Army, highly regarded by the other members.

General Harold Johnson was the Army Chief of Staff. A World War II prisoner of the Japanese, he was a soft-spoken, even-tempered, deeply religious man.

General John P. McConnell, Air Force Chief of Staff, was a native of Arkansas and a 1932 graduate of West Point.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps was General Wallace M. Greene, Jr., a slim, short, all-business Marine. General Greene was a Naval Academy graduate and a zealous protector of the Marine Corps concept of controlling its own air resources as part of an integrated air-ground team.

Last and by no means least was Admiral McDonald, a Georgia minister's son, also a Naval Academy graduate, and a naval aviator. While Admiral McDonald was a most capable leader, he w as also a reluctant warrior. He did not like what he saw emerging as a national commitment. He did not really want the US to get involved with land warfare, believing as he did that the Navy could apply sea power against North Vietnam very effectively by mining, blockading, and assisting in a bombing campaign, and in this way help to bring the war to a swift and satisfactory conclusion.

The Joint Chiefs intended that the prime topics of the meeting with the President would be naval matters-the mining and blockading of the port of Haiphong and naval support of a bombing campaign aimed at Hanoi. For that reason, the Navy was to furnish a briefing map, and that became my responsibility. We mounted a suitable map on a large piece of plywood, then coated it with clear acetate so that the chiefs could mark on it with grease pencils during the discussion. The whole thing weighed about 30 pounds.

The Military Office at the White House agreed to set up an easel in the Oval Office to hold the map. I would accompany Admiral McDonald to the White House with the map, put the map in place when the meeting started, then get out. There would be no strap-hangers at the military summit meeting with Lyndon Johnson.

The map and I joined Admiral McDonald in his staff car for the short drive to the White House, a drive that was memorable only because of the silence. My admiral was totally preoccupied.

The chiefs' appointment with the President was for two o'clock, and Admiral McDonald and I arrived about 20 minutes early. The chiefs were ushered into a fairly large room across the hall from the Oval Office. I propped the map board on the arms of a fancy chair where all could view it, left two of the grease pencils in the tray attached to the bottom of the board, and stepped out into the corridor. One of the chiefs shut the door , and they conferred in private until someone on the White House staff interrupted them about
fifteen minutes later. As they came out, I retrieved the map, then joined them in the corridor outside the President's office.

Precisely at two o'clock President Johnson emerged from the Oval Office and greeted the chiefs. He was all charm. He was also big, at three or more inches over six feet tall and something on the order of 250 pounds, he was bigger than any of the chiefs. He personally ushered them into his office, all the while delivering gracious and solicitous comments with a Texas accent far more pronounced than the one that came through when he spoke on television. Holding the map board as the chiefs entered, I peered between them, trying to find the easel. There was none. The President looked at me, grasped the situation at once, and invited me in, adding, "You can stand right over here." I had become an easel-one with eyes and ears.

To the right of the door, not far inside the office, large windows framed evergreen bushes growing in a nearby garden. The President's desk and several chairs were farther in, diagonally across the room from the windows.

The President positioned me near the windows, then arranged the chiefs in a semicircle in front of the map and its human easel. He did not offer them seats: they stood, with those who were to speak-Wheeler, McDonald, and McConnell-standing nearest the President. Paradoxically, the two whose services were most affected by a continuation of the ground buildup in Vietnam-Generals Johnson and Greene-stood farthest from the President. President Johnson stood nearest the door, about five feet from the map.

In retrospect, the set up, the failure to have an easel in place, the positioning of the chiefs on the outer fringe of the office, the lack of seating did not augur well. The chiefs had expected the meeting to be a short one, and it met that expectation. They also expected it to be of momentous import, and it met that expectation, too. Unfortunately, it also proved to be a meeting that was critical to the proper pursuit of what was to become the longest, most divisive, and least conclusive war in our nation's history, a war that almost tore the nation apart.

As General Wheeler started talking, President Johnson peered at the map. In five minutes or so, the general summarized our entry into Vietnam, the current status of forces, and the purpose of the meeting. Then he thanked the President for having given his senior military advisers the opportunity to present their opinions and recommendations. Finally, he noted that although Secretary McNamara did not subscribe to their views, he did agree that a presidential level decision was required. President Johnson, arms crossed, seemed to be listening carefully.

The essence of General Wheeler's presentation was that we had come to an early moment of truth in our ever increasing Vietnam involvement. We had to start using our principal strengths, air and naval power, to punish the North Vietnamese, or we would risk becoming involved in another protracted Asian ground war with no prospects of a satisfactory solution. Speaking for the chiefs, General Wheeler offered a bold course of action that would avoid protracted land warfare. He proposed that we isolate the major port of
Haiphong through naval mining, blockade the rest of the North Vietnamese coastline, and simultaneously start bombing Hanoi with B-52's.

General Wheeler then asked Admiral McDonald to describe how the Navy and Air Force would combine forces to mine the waters off Haiphong and establish a naval blockade. When Admiral McDonald finished, General McConnell added that speed of execution would be essential, and that we would have to make the North Vietnamese believe that we would increase the level of punishment if they did not sue for peace.

Normally, time dims our memories, but it hasn't dimmed this one. My memory of Lyndon Johnson on that day remains crystal clear. While General Wheeler, Admiral McDonald, and General McConnell spoke, he seemed to be listening closely, communicating only with an occasional nod. When General McConnell finished, General Wheeler asked the President if he had any questions. Johnson waited a moment or so, then turned to Generals Johnson and Greene, who had remained silent during the briefing, and asked, "Do you fully support these ideas?" He followed with the thought that it was they who were providing the ground troops, in effect acknowledging that the Army and the Marines were the services that had most to gain or lose as a result of this discussion. Both generals indicated their agreement with the proposal. Seemingly deep in thought, President Johnson turned his back on them for a minute or so, then suddenly discarding the calm, patient demeanor he had maintained throughout the meeting, whirled to face them and exploded.

I almost dropped the map. He screamed obscenities, he cursed them personally, he ridiculed them for coming to his office with their "military advice." Noting that it was he who was carrying the weight of the free world on his shoulders, he called them filthy names-shit heads, dumb shits, pompous assholes-and used "the F-word" as an adjective more freely than a Marine in boot camp would use it. He then accused them of trying to pass the buck for World War III to him. It was unnerving, degrading.

After the tantrum, he resumed the calm, relaxed manner he had displayed earlier and again folded his arms. It was a s though he had punished them, cowed them, and would now control them. Using soft-spoken profanities, he said something to the effect that they all knew now that he did not care about their military advice. After disparaging their abilities, he added
that he did expect their help.

He suggested that each one of them change places with him and assume that five incompetents had just made these "military recommendations." He told them that he was going to let them go through what he had to go through when idiots gave him stupid advice, adding that he had the whole damn world to worry about, and it was time to "see what kind of guts you have." He paused, as if to let it sink in. The silence was like a palpable solid, the
tension like that in a drumhead. After thirty or forty seconds of this, he turned to General Wheeler and demanded that Wheeler say what he would do if he were the President of the United States.

General Wheeler took a deep breath before answering. He was not an easy man to shake: his calm response set the tone for the others. He had known coming in, as had the others, that Lyndon Johnson was an exceptionally strong personality, and a venal and vindictive man as well. He had known that the stakes were high, and now realized that McNamara had prepared Johnson carefully for this meeting, which had been a charade.

Looking President Johnson squarely in the eye, General Wheeler told him that he understood the tremendous pressure and sense of responsibility Johnson felt. He added that probably no other President in history had had to make a decision of this importance, and further cushioned his remarks by saying that no matter how much about the presidency he did understand, there were many things about it that only one human being could ever understand.

General Wheeler closed his remarks by saying something very close to this:
"You, Mr. President, are that one human being. I cannot take your place, think your thoughts, know all you know, and tell you what I would do if I were you. I can't do it, Mr. President. No man can honestly do it.
Respectfully, sir, it is your decision and yours alone."

Apparently unmoved, Johnson asked each of the other Chiefs the same question. One at a time, they supported General Wheeler and his rationale. By now, my arms felt as though they were about to break. The map seemed to weigh a ton, but the end appeared to be near. General Greene was the last to speak.

When General Greene finished, President Johnson, who was nothing if not a skilled actor, looked sad for a moment, then suddenly erupted again, yelling and cursing, again using language that even a Marine seldom hears. He told them he was disgusted with their naive approach, and that he was not going to let some military idiots talk him into World War III. He ended the conference by shouting "Get the hell out of my office!"

The Joint Chiefs of Staff had done their duty. They knew that the nation was making a strategic military error, and despite the rebuffs of their civilian masters in the Pentagon, they had insisted on presenting the problem as they saw it to the highest authority and recommending solutions. They had done so, and they had been rebuffed. That authority had not only rejected their solutions, but had also insulted and demeaned them. As Admiral McDonald and I drove back to the Pentagon, he turned to me and said that he had known tough days in his life, and sad ones as well, but ". . .this has got to have been the worst experience I could ever imagine."

The US involvement in Vietnam lasted another ten years. The irony is that it began to end only when President Richard Nixon , after some backstage maneuvering on the international scene, did precisely what the Joint Chiefs of Staff had recommended to President Johnson in 1965. Why had Johnson not only dismissed their recommendations, but also ridiculed them? It must have been that Johnson had lacked something. Maybe it was foresight or boldness. Maybe it was the sophistication and understanding it took to deal with complex international issues. Or, since he was clearly a bully, maybe what he lacked was courage. We will never know. But had General Wheeler and the others received a fair hearing, and had their recommendations received serious study, the United States may well have saved the lives of most of its more than 55,000 sons who died in a war that its major architect, Robert Strange McNamara, now considers to have been a tragic mistake.


News:

This bill recently passed and became law. Now all the Wannabees can be prosecuted fined and do some time.
H. R. 3352
The Stolen Valor Act of 2005

HR 3352 IH
109th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 3352
To amend title 18, United States Code, with respect to protections for the Medal of Honor, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

July 19, 2005

Mr. SALAZAR introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

A BILL
To amend title 18, United States Code, with respect to protections for the Medal of Honor, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Stolen Valor Act of 2005'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress finds that--
(1) fraudulent claims surrounding receipt of the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished-Service Cross, the Air Force Cross, the Navy Cross, the Purple Heart, or any other medal or decoration awarded by Congress or the armed forces damage the reputation and meaning of these medals;
(2) Federal law enforcement officers are currently limited in their ability to prosecute fraudulent claims of receipt of military medals; and
(3) changes to the current statute are necessary to allow law enforcement personnel to protect the reputation and meaning of these medals.
SEC. 3. MILITARY MEDAL PROTECTIONS.
Section 704 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--
(1) in subsection (a)--
(A) by inserting `purchases, attempts to purchase, solicits for purchase, mails, ships, imports, exports, produces blank certificates of receipt,' after `wears'; and
(B) by inserting `attempts to sell, advertises for sale, trades, barters or exchanges for anything of value' after `sells';
(2) in subsection (b)(1), by inserting `or (b)' after `subsection (a)'
(3) by redesignating subsection (b) as subsection (c);
(4) by inserting after subsection (a) the following:
     `(b) False Claims About Receipt of Military Medals- Whoever falsely represents himself or herself, verbally or in writing, to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States, or any of the service medals or badges awarded to the members of such forces, or the ribbon, button, or rosette of any such badge, decoration or medal, or any colorable imitation thereof shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.'; and
(5) by adding at the end the following:
`     (d) Other Medals- If a decoration or medal involved in an offense under subsection    (a) or (b) is a Distinguished Service Cross awarded under Section 3742 of title 10, an Air Force Cross awarded under section 8742 of section 10, a Navy cross awarded under section 6242 of title 10, a silver star awarded under section 3746, 6244, or 8746 of title 10, or a Purple Heart awarded under section 1129 of title 10, or any replacement or duplicate medal as authorized by statute, in lieu of the punishment provided in that subsection, the offender shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.'.

Why isn't this all over the news?


A Poem:

  New Year's Eve in a foxhole
by Gary Jacobson © December 2005

New Year comes as an eagle flies, on wings of morning
Death surrounding you in foxhole lying
Fearing, devoid of hope, the enemy watching
Out there scheming of your departing
His greatest midnight dream of reuniting
You with dust from whence you came
Breathing caustic hatred's blame
Fetid enmity passing in air same-same.

New Year bells ring out around the world
Tolling of peace on earth unfurled
The raucous sound brings in new year mirth
Celebrating new year's rebirth
When old sins are washed away
Listen, listen, to bells on steeples play?
Is it too much today
To dream the killing stay away?

Grim death surrounds soldiers in foxholes lying
Fearing, devoid of hope, the enemy watching
Out there shadowing you, preoccupied with your dying
Hellish booby traps laying, to you dedicating
In a world gone so terribly wrong
Where the very breeze wails war's discordant song
Ghosts of fallen brothers pass before bone weary eyes
Nightmares from war's nocturnal review rise.

The new year brings to "boys next door" renewed hope
For only with abiding hope can he with battle cope
Casting war's decrepit mistakes and blunders by
Things done which make you wonder, why?
Why old soldiers of war feel sorely blue
Hoping their children will cruel war eschew
Knowing that sacrifice for them in damps and dew
To the good life renew.

Learn war's lessons exceeding plain
So no more will sin and error reign
Bringing fear and memories wicked pain
Old soldiers hope children of the new year learn
Objectionable tares discern
Learning not too quickly societies bridges to burn
To not doom innocents our same old mistakes to repeat
Burdened with war's unimaginable horrors replete.

O soldier boys by war ill used
Mind and body sore abused.
Who very honor accused
Escort out the old year's venerable old man
Who did his best with sickle or M-16 in his rough hand
Support him, but greet the dawn of a new day without him
Begin this day of new beginnings in every way.

New Years Day is the circle of life renewing...
Harvest accomplished with the ripening...
Plow under old lands made new for the planting
Where tarnished fields yield up fruit gathering
Where there is no battle in bloodletting fray
Rejuvenate your veteran soul today.
Learn to plant good will
When you can, forget that napalmed jungle still.

For this too will pass
This day of hurt and fearful danger will not last
So give nurturing sustenance to the world
Give brotherly love and good will unfurled
Learn to vent enmity's anger
Learn you do not have to be the world's saviour.
Celebrate the advent of the New Year
Welcome joyous rebirth most dear.

See that bright future you are now sowing
See unborn children before you growing
The tree of life with new fruit bearing
The old world made new and shining.
Ye verily, comes a rapturous reawakening
Devoid of past war's strife and worrying.
Answer the question “When will they ever learn?” ...now!
Turn swords into pruning hooks, or the plow.

Make resolution to build, not destroy
Fill the world with peace for every girl and boy.
Discard the warrior's ways
Living for peace all your days.
Learn from dark dreary past
To grow with the path for you life cast
Retaining only gained wisdom
Learn from that, for those who do not learn, succumb.

In this new year dare to dream
Dream of a brave new life which souls redeem
Make barren the seeds of war
Within a violent warrior's heart sown
Arise to plant them no more
Plant only fruit bearing seeds with an eye on the throne
Make of life's garden a wondrous place
See only our loving Master's peaceful face.


Humor

A tourist walked into a pet shop and was looking at the animals on display. While he was there, an officer from the local AMC base walked in and said to the shopkeeper "I'll take a 6114 monkey, please."

 The shopkeeper nodded, went to a cage at the side of the store and took out the monkey. He put a collar and leash on the animal and handed it to the officer, saying, "That'll be 2000 dollars, please."  The officer paid and left with the monkey.

 The surprised tourist went to the shopkeeper and said "That was a very expensive monkey. Most of them are only a few hundred dollars. Why did that one cost so much??".

The shopkeeper answered, "Ah that's a 6114 monkey, he can rig aircraft flight controls, score 100 on the Fitness Test, set up a perimeter defense and perform the duties of a SNCO with no back talk or complaints. It's well worth the money."

 The tourist then spotted a monkey in another cage. "That one's even more expensive! 10,000 dollars! What does it do?" he asked.

"Oh that one," replied the shopkeeper. "That's a Maintenance Supervisor monkey. It can instruct at all levels of maintenance, supervise maintenance at the unit, intermediate and depot level and even do most of the paperwork. A very useful monkey indeed".

The tourist looked around a little longer and found a third in a cage. The price tag was 50,000 dollars. The shocked tourist exclaimed, "This one costs more than all the others put together! What in the world can it do?"  "Actually" said the shopkeeper "I've never actually seen him do anything but drink beer and play with himself, but his papers say he's a pilot."  




"We few, weWe few, we happy few, we band of brothers,
For he today that sheds his blood with me, Shall be my brother."
-Wm Shakespeare-
Well guys Until next month..keep a smile on your face and  your skids out of the TreesJ--Ron