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News Letter February 2008
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    "The Monthly Diamondhead"
February 2008
Editor-Reporter-Chief Cook-Web Slave-
Ron Leonard
 918-429-0252
E- mail: webmaster@25thaviation.org

"If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves. Winston Churchill
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 Company Stuff:

 Well this is the first month in 7 years we found no one new. We do have some disturbing facts though. I have been tracking deaths, and causes of our long lost friends. Most of our deaths have been caused by cancer of various kinds, to include Leukemia. More than 25% of us are already dead since we returned from Vietnam. Sobering isn't it.

    "The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power
  To tell just when the hands will stop At late or early hour.
  Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will.
  Place no faith in time, for the clock may soon be still."

 .Reunions:

Association Reunion  ,San Antonio Texas is TENTATIVELY set for -
Thursday November 12, 2008 - Check Out - Sunday - November 16, 2008
Room Rates: (based on 2pp to a room) $115.00 with Continental Plus Hot Item (Breakfast will be served in the hospitality room each morning) **Guest Rooms will be available 3 days before the 12th and 3 days after the 16th at the group rate. The hotel will be the  El Tropicano Riverwalk. I will have more details and the itinerary sorted out shortly.

If You plan on coming let me know ASAP if you can so I can figure out how big a block of rooms we are going to need, how many meals we will need, etc etc....It's a planning thing:)

Tentative Attendees so far

Oscar Garza
Ben Crabtree and wife
Jess Forester and son Jeff
Andy Carr and wife
Joe Finch and wife
Larry Muntz and wife
Ben Brint
Marlin Price
Dennis Pickett
Larry Kerr
George Pendleton and wife
Gary Paris and wife
Dale Gueller
Huey Weston and wife
George Heneveld
Jim Canon and wife
Bob Seger
Ron Skamanish and wife
Andy Asberry and wife
Rob Amiot
Chet Atkins
Ron Leonard
Candyce Thomas
George Smith
Bert Rice
Bobby Connell and wife
Jon Mitchell
Gary Thompkins and wife
Dave Henard and wife
LTC Frank Tate Modern Day 25th

Dan Lentz
Charlie Rodgers and daughters


If you plan on coming let me know so I can keep up with my list and it helps in the planning of rooms, meals etc.

Sept 2008 1st week Annual Alaska Fishing Trip

The first week of Sept there is an open invite to come to Alaska Fishing. If you want to attend you will only be out a plane ticket fishing license, and chipping in to the grub and beer funds. (Unless you motor home it or motel it) We have a cabin, camping gear up here for a bunch, do bring your own sleeping bag and a camera.

We are planning on a base camp on the Kenai River in Sterling Alaska The guides will give us one day on the river pro bono, and I am setting up a two-day float trip down the Swanson River (free). It's a pretty easy float with few portages. But is loaded with trout and Silver Salmon that time of year. It is also Moose season, so hopefully one will have my name on it along the way<G>. There will also be lots of other wildlife, like bears, both black and brown, and a wolf or two, maybe a grizzly or two, grouse, ducks, Trumpeter Swans....it should be a fun trip. I am working on one-day (reduced rate) offshore fishing trip from Seward with Saltwater Safaris as I write this, so it will make a full week of fun and adventure. I hope to see you here; I assure you it will be a trip of a lifetime.
Pictures from this year

 Notifications:

Looking For Info.
Dana Meece
E-Mail: miked.stewart@kctcs.edu
City/Country: Somerset US
Comments: Looking for anyone who knew doorgunner MacHughlen Meece KIA on a helicopter 5-5-66. He was shot in the head and it was evidently very messy. I am his niece and trying to find out info.

Name: Brandie Radigan
 E-Mail: brandieradigan@hotmail.com
 City/Country: alaska
Comments: Dear sir, I have two questions, My father Randy Radigan flew with the "little Bears", 3 tours aka Rotoblades Radigan did you know him or could you find out if anyone that visits your site did? He has passed. I am doing some research on Agent Orange with relation to stomach ulcers. Do you have any advice on where to find accurate information not the information supplied by government or VA? I want the truth not the cover up. Thanks for your time.
Grateful for your service,
Brandie Radigan


The Legacy continues:)

Ron,
I am very pleased to inform you that 2-25 Aviation, Task Force Diamond Head has been selected to receive the Award for Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) Active Duty Unit of the Year! Please let everyone know.

 The Award will be presented at the AAAA National Convention in Washinton D.C. 0n 7 April. I have attached the notification letter for your information. Our Proud 25th Aviation Veterans have done a great deal to support Task Force Diamond Head on our last two deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. You all share in this Award.

Thanks for all you have done and continue to do for the soldiers.

LTC Frank W. Tate

 If anyone needs to get in touch with me reference this event my new address is:

309 Holland Lane #116
Alexandria, VA 22314

My phone is a cell and the number has not changed (808)375-2191. Bev's cell is (808) 778-8696.
I am always happy to hear from 25th Aviation Veterans.

Ron,
I just got some more great news. SGT Corey Haynes, a great Diamond Head Soldier, has been selected as the AAAA Crew Chief of the Year. Diamond Head Soldiers are recieving the recognition that they so richly deserve. I could not be more proud of all of them.

If you did not know, CW4 Joe Roland (Bn SIP) has already be awarded the AAAA Trainer of the Year Award. It was presented two weeks ago at a wonderful ceremony at Fort Rucker.

V/R

LTC Frank W. Tate

Some Things Just Don't Need Explained

Subject: Interesting Note From Snopes.com

 Repeat after me "I promise not to forward any of these type e-mails to you."  
Very, very good information!

From Snopes.com <http://snopes.com/>

If you are going to pass something along . . . . let it be THIS!

To whom it all concerns:

Just a word to the wise. E-mail petitions are NOT acceptable to Congress or any other municipality.  
To be acceptable, petitions must have a signed signature and full address.

Same with "prayer chains" -- be wary!

Almost all e-mails that ask you to add your name and forward on to others are similar to that mass letter years ago that asked people to send business cards to the little kid in Florida who wanted to break the
Guinness Book of Records for the most cards.

<>All it was, and all this type of e-mail is, is to get names and "cookie" tracking info for telemarketers and spammers to validate active e-mail accounts for their own purposes.

Any time you see an e-mail that says forward this on to "10" of your friends, sign this petition, or you'll get good luck, or what ever, it has either an e-mail tracker program attached that tracks the cookies
and e-mails of those folks you forward to, or the host sender is getting a copy. Each time it gets forwarded, then it's able to get lists of "active" e-mails to use in spam e-mails, or sell to others that do.


Please forward this notice to others and you will be providing a good service to your friends, and will be rewarded by not getting 30,000 spam e-mails in the future.

(If you have been sending out the above kinds of email, now you know why you get so much spam!)

Check it out: http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/petition/internet.htm




 Letters:

Thank you for your email to Maggie Hodge. It's nice that the Little Bears remember us! The best, and I mean the VERY BEST Thanksgiving that I ever had was in '69 when the Little Bears flew us down to Tan
Tru.

Sue and I had a ball while we were there, and then we had a great flight back, with lots of joking and laughter with the pilots and crew. The LB's were my buddies, as were the Diamondheads, and they'll
always be closest to my heart when it comes to our daily 'rides' to the field! And it still makes me sad when I think about Spooky's end -I'd actually gone into her cage a number of times, and when I think
that she was given drugs and/or alcohol to the extent that she was in her later days, becoming rather mean, and then died when they tried to take her to Hawaii .......... well, it was just a shame!

But, on a brighter note: Thanks for all that you guys did for US!

Rene'

Dear Ron,
My problems are linked to age. I'm, perhaps, in better shape now than I have been over the last three years. My heart is now operated by a CRT-D (Cardiac Resynchronizer Theraphy-Defibrillator) and since just prior to last years Summer vacation in So. Illinois, with all my French and US Grand-kids and their parents, it is working perfectly. The Cancer is asleep and I hope it stays there, so I read with a lot of interest the notice of the Reunion in November in San Antone. If possible, the wife and I will attend, but I'll not promise anything except to try.
I don't think you realize it, but The Association exists, in my humble opinion, because of you. If you ever think of letting go of the reins, think twice. You're well respected for your efforts.
God Bless and the best from Hughey Weston, Little Bear Six 66-67.
We really were young and we were really soldiers.


Ron:
I have a new radio talk show that starts December 15th from 7pm to 8pm EST that can be picked up on the Internet, see the link on my web site. The shows web site has the wrong time, I'm on from 7 to 8 pm every Saturday after the 15th. Everyone who calls in during the show will get a free signed copy of one of my books. I hope to hear from all of you - we can talk about Vietnam as long as we keep it clean!
Check out my new web site at http://www.bocaspeaker.com
Regards,
Jack Simpson

Standard;Hello All,
As I mentioned earlier, I visited Berkeley, today.  Code Pink had their Truck parked just past the USMC office and had 6-8 members directly in Front of the doors.  Two rather larger fellows, dressed in orange overalls, Were standing immediately in front of the doors and forcefully blocking Anyone from entering.  The blocking got rather physical and was reported on Bay Area TV.
Berkeley PD had three officers posted across the street keeping an eye on The situation, but they did not interfere with the blocking.  I asked one Officer what he thought of it.  He responded that they (CP) was blocking Egress.  I asked him what would happen if I went over and tried to enter And visit the captain?  He responded by saying that he would not advise me
To.  THIS IS PATENTLY ILLEGAL, IN MY OPINION!  How in the world can they Block our passing, and claim it is their right to do so.
I mentioned to the officer that I would be pressing for an action at the Next city council meeting.  Note:  One of the council members stated today That she was sorry to have voted for the parking megaphone permits.  The One council member that voted no was on TV this evening describing his Reasoning.  Sounded good, and surprising for Berkeley!!!  Remember the flap Over the Berkeley Fire Department being ordered to remove their US flags From their trucks.  I think they don't want that to happen, again.
One fellow was standing along the side of the road and addressing passing Vehicles with a megaphone.  He occasionally would get castigated by passing Motorist (surprise, in Berkeley!).
I am going to contact the County Prosecutor's Office to see if they will Take a complaint for blocking egress.  I also think the US Prosecutor may Be able to prosecute for interfering with a lawful government activity.
I may post myself a few doors down the street, with a sign saying, in big Bold, letters, something like "Witness Treason, Ahead!" and "Code Pink, Killing US Soldiers one slander at a time!"  "Code Pink, providing aid and Comfort for Terrorists".  Got any ideas?
Thomas Hoynes
Open Letter to Deployed US Troops
by Terry L. Garlock
published in The Citizen newspaper
Fayette County GA Feb 13, 2008

While you are doing America's hardest work in Iraq and Afghanistan,you may have heard the buzz that the Berkely, CA City Council passed a resolution ". . . the Marine recruiting office is not welcome in our city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders . . " and that the council went further to "Encourage all people to avoid cooperation with the Marine Corps recruiting station, and applaud residents and organizations such as Code Pink, that may volunteer to impede, passively or actively, by nonviolent means, the work of any military recruiting office located in the City of Berkeley."

The Berkeley City Council granted Code Pink a parking permit in front of the Marine recruiting office with blanket permit approval for anti-war demonstrations. You may wonder if our country has lost its mind, so Ifd like to pass on a little reassurance.

There is a vast difference in what you see on TV news and what is in the minds and hearts of the American people you represent. Opinions are all over the map on how we should or should not use military force, but every American I know is pulling for you,
hoping you come home in one piece.

Most cross their fingers for success in your difficult mission. Of those who disagree with our president on Iraq, like me, some are smart enough to defer their right to speak out, knowing they can apply their views in the next election, keeping their opinion to
themselves out of respect and support of you as you face an enemy who watches our TV reports.

Our politicians, of course, are not that smart, not that disciplined. When I and other Vietnam veterans came home thirty something years ago, we, too, thought the country had gone mad. Norm McDonald of Provo, UT, a drafted grunt machine gunner in the
jungles not far from Saigon, did his duty but was still a hippie in his heart and dubious about the war when he came home. He felt some kinship with protesters in the LA airport until one of them, a pretty blond girl, spit in his face and called him a gmurderer.h

What Norm and the rest of us didn't know back then was anti-war radicals were just a tiny minority, magnified out of all proportion by the press, while most Americans were supportive of our troops until the press gave legitimacy to the absurd fabrication that we were a bunch of war criminals.

Major battles like the 1968 Tet Offensive, the 1970 Cambodia incursion and the 1971 Easter Offensive were huge military victories
against our enemy in Vietnam, but portrayed by the American media as failures, the way conventional wisdom remembers them.

Now the press is twisting the truth of your war. A few weeks ago in January, in Iraq you carried out Operation Phantom Phoenix, squeezing al Qaeda out of dwindling hidey-holes, destroying safe houses, IED assembly operations and weapons caches as the enemy ran instead of fighting as expected. The locals, including tribal chiefs, cheered your success because they were sick of the violence. Schools are open. Water runs. Businesses are sprouting. Adversaries are beginning to negotiate.

The news reports at home about Operation Phantom Phoenix? "Nine American Soldiers Killed." At the same time the press devoted top billing to the overdose death of actor Heath Ledger, too busy to cover victories in Iraq or to focus on the virtues of soldiers who paid the ultimate price for their country. You wonft find perspective on TV news, and even in quality newspapers you have to hunt for stories that should be on the front page.

In Peachtree City, GA, I pulled together a group of guys who were helicopter pilots in the Vietnam War. We meet for breakfast at a restaurant called Mike and Cfs and call ourselves the Pucker Factor Liars Club. Those of you in Iraq and Afghanistan who have been shot at enough times know all about the pucker factor, being scared as hell while doing your job, going back into the fire again and again when your brothers need you. Liars Club comes from how we tell our stories with a little entertaining flair, true stories civilians might find hard to believe, stories that usually start with gYoufre not gonnaf believe this!"or" Now, this is no @#$%!, guys." Somehow the stories are always hilarious, the more solemn ones kept to ourselves because that's what men do".

All of us in the Liars Club the pucker factor well. Just a few examples: Wayne King tells how his butt cheeks clenched his seat while he hovered his slick under fire, down into a jungle opening too small, careful with his fragile tail rotor but hearing "Whack-Whack-Whack!" as his main rotor blades beat tree branches to a pulp and he descended 150 feet down to pull a LRRP (Ranger) team out of a hot area.

Skip Ragan tells about flying clandestine teams to forbidden places, how he sweat from every pore in his body while hovering over the jungle to pull them out "on the strings because there was no opening to land and the enemy was on their tail, shooting at him while he hovered, and how wide-eyed he was in the jungle when he was shot down because we pilots were wussies when it comes to fighting on the ground.

My cobra gunship was shot down in a firefight and I came home on a stretcher with a broken back, but being shot down was not always debilitating.

Mike King, who recently lost a bid for Peachtree City Council, knows that well. Mike flew small OH-6 scout helicopters, a dangerous job of flying low and slow to find the infiltrating enemyfs trail and to draw their fire to expose their position. When Mike prepared for a mission he gathered his grease gun, CAR 15, 9mm pistol, Smith & Wesson 38 pistol, M-16, survival knife, machete and an 80 lb sack of grenades, each wrapped in 2 lbs of C4 for tossing into bunkers from his scout helicopter, a tough and highly maneuverable little bird.

It was a good thing Mike suited up like Rambo and it was a good thing that little helicopter was so tough because Mike was shot down five times in Vietnam, well, six if you count the time his own gunner was trading fire with the enemy when Mike turned too suddenly and too steep and he shot off the ends of the rotor blades. Mike had to put it on the ground before it thrashed itself to pieces. We are undecided whether we will count that one.

The point is we understand what you guys in Iraq and Afghanistan are enduring even though many things are different than Vietnam, but ask yourself this question. How can civilians understand this stuff? How can the good people who never left comfort and safety know and appreciate what you are sacrificing for your country and for them? They don't, they can't, though some try.

When you add the distortion of the media molding the news to their agenda, the truth gets lost. That is why it is so important for you not to count on the media too much, and vital for you to tell your stories loud and clear when you come home. America is hungry for the truth.

While the press magnifies fringe groups like the Berkely City Council and Code Pink, or the radicals who burned a soldier in effigy and defecated on an American flag in Seattle a few months ago, the vast majority of Americans may not be visible but they support you.

Be sustained by knowing the truth in your heart, and by the support of regular Joes and Janes at home. Be proud of your service and know the quiet gratitude of America is there, and it is strong.

If you live near us, join us for lies over coffee when you come home.
----------
Terry Garlock was a cobra gunship helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War.
tgarlock@mindspring.com
Lt. Mike King in 1971, breaking the rules by smoking in the front seat of his OH-6 LOH low observation helicopter, or in our slang, gLoachh

Reply To Terry Garlock from Little Bear John Webb

Terry,
We did not know each other in Vietnam, as I was with the Little Bears in Cu Chi from May 1968 through June 1969 and the gOne-O-Worstf Airborne Division at Camp Eagle from March though December 1971.
Thank you for writing the article "Open Letter to Deployed US Troops" (attached). I got a copy of your "Open Letter" from Ron Leonard who you know as a Diamondhead, through Jay Marion, a Little Bear crew chief 1967-68.  
I only hope that every one of our guys that are serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan gets to read your letter.   As you rightly pointed out, it was both confusing and disheartening for us who served in Vietnam to read and hear the distorted media accounts from "home" while we were in harm's way. It is no less confusing and disheartening for the young men and women in Iraq today.
As you already know, there were several wars running concurrently in Vietnam, as there are in Iraq.  The shooting war, which the US Military won handily in Vietnam 97-3 (kill ratio). The Media War which Walter Cronkite and the rest of the losers in the US Media surrendered and threw to the Communists during Tet of 1968 and following; and of course the Political War, which Senator Teddy Kennedy along with the rest of the Democrat dominated Congress surrendered to the Communists. When the Congress voted to cut and run from Vietnam just as it was being won militarily and then worst of all, they betrayed the South Vietnamese by cutting off all promised funding and ammunition to Vietnam in 1973, sealing their fate at the hands of the Communists in 1975.  
That last betrayal of the South Vietnamese alone resulted in the murders of roughly two million freedom-loving South Vietnamese people at the hands of the communists in 1975 and 1976, plus forced over four million others into re-education camps for up to six years. Countless numbers if Vietnamese died on the high seas as eboat peoplef attempting to escape the hell consigned to them by the US Media and Congress.  Let me re-state that slightly more correctly: gc resulted in the murders to two million freedom-loving South Vietnamese people at the hands of the US Media and the Democrat dominated Congress.h I am still having a hard time dealing with the eilkf that we share this country with.  They take corrupt character and dishonor and wear them like medals of honor.  
The worst aspect is that even though the US media and Congress deliberately lost their respective wars, and despite the fact that the US Military won the shooting war, the US Military nevertheless "carries the can" for the loss in Vietnam. Thatfs strange math indeed.  I guess when you control the speakers and the papers, you control what you want people to read and hear; damn the truth. Truly we are living in a time when good is called evil, and evil called good.
I am left with an inescapable conclusion, that in the time of war, there is a damnable downside to the "freedom of the press", or should I say "anarchy of the press". I think they had it right in World War I when Congress passed a law that made it an "act to treason" to print anything against the country's cause during the time of war. The law was later found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, but should it have been?  We now know the other side of that coin only too well.  Peace time is one thing ? war is altogether another. Especially if we are to ever win another war again before the country collapses in upon itself. If the pattern holds, while the Iraq war is starting to look hopeful for a successful conclusion, so we should expect the retreat and defeat mantra to pick up in the Media and Congress.  Hurry! Run before we win!!
I choose believe that there will be a special place reserved in the extraordinarily hot bowels of the earth with special punishment for those in the Media and Congress who betrayed and caused the deaths of so many innocents. For all their rhetoric and bluster, they will not be able to escape.  They have earned it because of their ignominious "defeat and retreat" cowardice ? for the blood of the South Vietnamese, and soon, for the blood of Iraqis who dare to hope for freedom and who foolishly trust the United States to honorably finish what it starts. eShamef is not an adequate word to describe our nationfs collective behavior if this pattern happens yet again.
The reason I am writing this email to you is to agree with you that the identical pattern has developed in Iraq, and to encourage you to continue to speak out. If the present Democrat dominated Congress and the US Media have their way, they will throw the media war and political war to the Muslim radicals, cut and run from Iraq and Afghanistan and then cut off both countries financially.  Then both Media and Congress will claim that the US Military lost yet another war.
How do we stop this from happening? Or how does the record ever get set straight?  I dont really know, other than keeping the truth out there, so one day in hind sight, maybe the actual truth will be known.  Maybe you could try and get your article published in the Stars and Stripes, Fox News, Newsmax.com and who ever else will publish it along with others. That would be a good start.
I am currently writing a factual account of my experiences in Vietnam along with the horrors of the media and the Congress, but I will no doubt be long dead before anyone will really care; if then.  The sleepless nights and tears of regret for the wasted American lives and South Vietnamese lives is small enough price for us to pay in order to record what actually happened.  The truth is out there. Its just not in the Media or in the Congress.  Its in your experiences and mine, and in the experiences of others who served their country, if and only if those experiences are told in print. Otherwise, the lies become the truth, or is it already too late?

 Keep up the good work,

 Best regards,

 John Webb

Sheep, Wolves & Sheepdogs


This probably is one of the most well-crafted and poignant essays I've read about our broken society.  Take the time to read it thoroughly--you will enjoy it.

Received from Marybeth Laguna, widow of Art Laguna (a true American hero, good friend of Charles Grennel, and sheepdog) who gave his life flying and fighting in Iraq in January of '07

This letter was written by Charles Grennel and his comrades who are veterans of the Global War on Terror.  Grennel is an Army Reservist who spent two years in Iraq and was a principal in putting together the first Iraq elections, January of 2005.  It was written to Jill Edwards, a student at the University of Washington who did not want to honor Medal of Honor recipient USMC Colonel Greg Boyington.  Ms. Edwards and other students (and faculty) do not think those who serve in the U.S. armed services are good role models.
_________

To:  Edwards, Jill (student, UW) Subject:  Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs

Miss Edwards, I read of your student activity regarding the proposed memorial to Col. Greg Boyington, USMC and a Medal of Honor winner.  I suspect you will receive a bellyful of angry e-mails from conservative folks like me.

You may be too young to appreciate fully the sacrifices of generations of servicemen and servicewomen on whose shoulders you and your fellow students stand. I forgive you for the untutored ways of youth and your naivete. It may be that you are, simply, a sheep. There's no dishonor in being a sheep as long as you know and accept what you are.

William J. Bennett, in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24,1997    said: Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident. We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

Then there are the wolves and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy. Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it.  There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds.  The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep.  There is no safety in denial.

Then there are sheepdogs, and I'm a sheepdog.  I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.  If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep.  If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens?  What do you have then?  A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the unchartered path.  Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

We know that the sheep live in denial; that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school.  Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial.  The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog.  He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence.  The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep.  Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed.  The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.  Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep.  He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land.  They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports, in camouflage fatigues, holding an M-16.  The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, Baa.  Until the wolf shows up; then the entire flo ck tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer.  They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop.  When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them.

This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.  Look at what happened after September 11, 2001, when the wolf pounded hard on the door.  Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel?  Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be.  Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle.  That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle.  The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed, right along with the young ones.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently.  The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day.  After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes.  The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference. You want to be able to make a difference.  There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage.  Only one.  And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.

There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes.  These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence:  assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness.  They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.  Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey.  Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking.  When they learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd and the other passengers confronted the terrorist hijackers.  In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers, athletes, business people and parents from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. Edmund Burke

Only the dead have seen the end of war. Plato

Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year.  In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep.  Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice.

But you are not a critter.  As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be.  It is a conscious, moral decision.  If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay.  When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you.  If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love.  But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice.  It is a matter of degrees, a continuum.  On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between.

Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial.  The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. It's OK to be a sheep, but do not kick the sheep dog.  Indeed, the sheep dog may just run a little harder, strive to protect a little better and be fully prepared to pay an ultimate price in battle and spirit with the sheep moving from baa to thanks.

We do not call for gifts or freedoms beyond our lot.  We just need a small pat on the head, a smile and a thank you to fill the emotional tank which is drained protecting the sheep.  And when our number is called by The Almighty, and day retreats into night, a small prayer before the heavens just may be in order to say thanks for letting you continue to be a sheep. And be grateful for the thousands, millions of American sheepdogs who permit you the freedom to express even bad ideas.


 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.


 Medical and VA Issues:

** Army Blocks Disability Paperwork Aid at Fort Drum**
 by Ari Shapiro*

 Stephanie Kuykendal Former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna  Shalala, who co-chaired President Bush's commission on veterans' care, > says the whole disability rating system is broken and needs to change.

 Morning Edition, January 29, 2008 ? Army officials in upstate New York  instructed representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs not  to help disabled soldiers at Fort Drum Army base with their military  disability paperwork last year. That paperwork can be crucial because it helps determine whether soldiers will get annual disability  payments and health care after they're discharged.

Now soldiers at Fort Drum say they feel betrayed by the institutions  that are supposed to support them. The soldiers want to know why the  Army would want to stop them from getting help with their disability  paperwork and why the VA" whose mission is to help veterans "would  agree to the Army's request.

A Worn Pair of Boots

One disabled soldier, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because  he fears retaliation from the military, says it feels like a slap in  the face.

"To be tossed aside like a worn-out pair of boots is pretty  disheartening," the soldier says. "I always believed the Army would  take care of me if I did the best I could, and I've done that."

At a restaurant near Fort Drum, the soldier described his first  briefing with the VA office on base. According to the soldier, the VA  official told a classroom full of injured troops, "We cannot help you  review the narrative summaries of your medical problems.h The official  said the VA used to help soldiers with the paperwork, but Army  officials saw soldiers from Fort Drum getting higher disability  ratings with the VA's help than soldiers from other bases. The Army  told the VA to stop helping Fort Drum soldiers describe their army  injuries, and the VA did as it was told.

It's unclear why the Army wanted to stop the soldiers from getting  help with the disability paperwork. Cynthia Vaughan, spokeswoman for > the Army surgeon general, says the VA was not doing anything wrong by  helping soldiers at Fort Drum.

gThere is no Army policy on outside help in reviewing and/or assisting  soldiers in rewriting their narratives during the 10-day period which  they have to review them," Vaughan says.

She says the officers who asked the VA to stop helping Fort Drumfs  soldiers were part of what the Army calls a "Tiger Team"\ an ad-hoc  group assigned to investigate, in this case, medical disability benefits.

According to Army spokesman George Wright, the Tiger Team thought the VA should not be helping soldiers with their medical documents. The  Army delivered that message to VA officials in Buffalo, N.Y., who went  along with the request, even though the VA's assistance complied with  Army policy.

The Army declined to provide any information about the Tiger Team  membersf identities or their motivations in asking the VA to stop  reviewing the soldiers' paperwork. However, private attorney Mara  Hurwitt points out that the Army has a financial incentive to keep  soldiers' disability ratings low.

gThe more soldiers you have who get disability retirements, the more  retirement pay is coming out of your budget," Hurwitt says.

 _Qualified to Help?_

Another question is why the VA would go along with the Army's request.

Tom Pamperin, deputy director of the VA's compensation and pension service, believes VA officers are not qualified to help with soldiersf  disability paperwork.

gWe do not train our employees in the intricacies of the Defense  Departmentfs disability evaluation system, so we would feel that it  would be inappropriate for our employees to apply VA standards to a  Defense Department process," Pamperin says.

But Hurwitt argues the VA is more equipped than anyone to help  soldiers with their paperwork.

"VA counselors understand the disabilities, what the different kinds  of conditions are, how they should be properly described in the  paperwork," Hurwitt says.

 She points out that VA officials have to look at a soldier's medical  history anyway to counsel him or her on VA benefits, which are  separate from Army benefits.

"Really what it comes down to is you're just helping the soldier get  what hefs entitled to under law," Hurwitt says.

_System 'Unfair_

 This is just the latest in a string of controversies about disability  payments for injured veterans.

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, who  co-chaired President Bush's recent commission on veterans' care, says  stories like this one show how the whole disability rating system is  broken and needs to change.

The system is "fundamentally unfair," according to Shalala, "and  that's the point about the need for reform in the system. It has to be  reformed for everyone."

Tricare fees, GI Bill transfers eyed for '09

By Tom Philpott, Special to Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, February 9, 2008

President Bushs final defense budget, for fiscal 2009, asks a reluctant Congress for a third time to raise Tricare co-payments on drugs dispensed at retail pharmacies and to increase Tricare enrollment fees and deductibles for working-age military retirees and their families.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, soft-pedaled arguments for fee increases this year while presenting the 09 budget to the armed services committees Tuesday.

Indeed, both said they will re-examine the Defense Departments opposition to Virginia Democratic Sen. James Webbs bill for a World War II-style GI Bill education package for the current force. Meanwhile, Gates said, DOD will get behind some sort of expansion to a program that allows transfer of unused Montgomery GI Bill benefits to spouses and dependent children.

Savings of $1.2 billion from higher Tricare fees are assumed in the budget, even though Defense officials arent ready to share specific details. Tina Jonas, the DOD comptroller, said the fee increases will be based on recommendations of the Task Force on the Future of Military Health. But Defense officials have given themselves until June to study those recommendations and decide which ones DOD wants Congress to approve.

My gut is that there are very few, if any, members either on the personnel subcommittee or the full committee who want to do this, said New York Rep. John McHugh, a ranking Republican on the House armed services military personnel subcommittee.

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., a freshman on the House Armed Services Committee and former military spouse, suggested to Gates that the projected Tricare savings are a shell game because they assume many retirees under age 65, when faced with higher out-of-pocket costs, will go elsewhere for health insurance, shifting most likely to employer plans.

Can you imagine that people will pull away from a [military] health care policy? she asked.

Comptroller Jonas, sitting at Gates side, responded for him that the fee increases will be based on recommendations of the task force that Congress commissioned. She added that military health care spending has doubled since 2001. In fact, we spend more on our health care than Germany spends on its entire defense.

The higher drug co-payments, which would impact active-duty families as well as retirees of any age and their families, are projected to save $700 million next year. Higher Tricare fees and deductibles for under age 65 retirees and their families would save another $500 million.

With health costs climbing nationwide, Shea-Porter said, it is unrealistic to try to curb health costs for the military. Also, she said, the $42 billion being spent next year on military beneficiaries needs to be considered in light of $10 billion to $12 billion a month being spent to stay in Iraq.
We have an obligation to protect these troops and honor our commitment to their families, Shea-Porter said.

Besides higher Tricare fees, DOD is pushing three new budget initiatives to enhance support for military families. One would strengthen work opportunities for spouses through merit-based internships and by expanding a pilot program called career advancement accounts which offer spouses up to $3,000 a year for education and training in select career fields.

A second would increase child-care centers through public-private partnerships. A third initiative would allow more members to transfer unused Montgomery GI Bill education benefits to their spouse and children, but officials are still deciding how such a program would be shaped.
One idea being studied is to endorse a bill introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, to broaden the very limited MGIB transfer authority approved several years ago and used today only by the Army.

Under current law, the services can offer enlisted members in critical skills a chance to transfer up to 18 months of unused MGIB benefits to a spouse or child. The member must have at least six years in service, must sign a four-year re-enlistment contract and must accept a reduction to their re-enlistment bonus. Fewer than 100 soldiers have been enticed by the offer since it became available in November 2006.


Veterans not entitled to mental health care, U.S. lawyers argue

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer


Veterans have no legal right to specific types of medical care, the Bush administration argues in a lawsuit accusing the government of illegally denying mental health treatment to some troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The arguments, filed Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco, strike at the heart of a lawsuit filed on behalf of veterans that claims the health care system for returning troops provides little recourse when the government rejects their medical claims.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is making progress in increasing its staffing and screening veterans for combat-related stress, Justice Department lawyers said. But their central argument is that Congress left decisions about who should get health care, and what type of care, to the VA and not to veterans or the courts.

A federal law providing five years of care for veterans from the date of their discharge establishes "veterans' eligibility for health care, but it does not create an entitlement to any particular medical service," government lawyers said.

They said the law entitles veterans only to "medical care which the secretary (of Veterans Affairs) determines is needed, and only to the extent funds ... are available."

The argument drew a sharp retort from a lawyer for advocacy groups that sued the government in July. The suit is a proposed class action on behalf of 320,000 to 800,000 veterans or their survivors.

"Veterans need to know in this country that the government thinks all their benefits are mere gratuities," attorney Gordon Erspamer said. "They're saying it's completely discretionary, that even if Congress appropriates money for veterans' health care, we can do anything we want with it."

The issue will be joined March 7 at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti, who denied the administration's request last month to dismiss the suit. While the case is pending, the plaintiffs want Conti to order the government to provide immediate mental health treatment for veterans who say they are thinking of killing themselves and to spend another $60 million on health care.

The suit accuses the VA of arbitrarily denying care and benefits to wounded veterans, of forcing them to wait months for treatment and years for benefits, and of failing to provide fair procedures for appealing decisions against them.

The plaintiffs say that the department has a backlog of more than 600,000 disability claims and that 120 veterans a week commit suicide.

In his Jan. 10 ruling that allowed the suit to proceed, Conti said federal law entitles veterans to health care for a specific period after leaving the service, rejecting the government's argument that it was required to provide only as much care as the VA's budget allowed in a given year. A law that President Bush signed last week extended the period from two to five years.

In its latest filing, however, the Justice Department reiterated that Congress had intended "to authorize, but not require, medical care for veterans."

"This court should not interfere with the political branches' design, oversight and modification of VA programs," the government lawyers argued.

They also said the VA "is making great progress in addressing the mental health care needs of combat veterans." Among other things, they cited a law passed in November that required the department to establish a suicide-prevention program that includes making mental health care available around the clock.

The VA has hired nearly 3,800 mental health professionals in the last two years and has at least one specialist in post-traumatic stress disorder at each of its medical centers, the government said.

Since June, government lawyers said, the VA has had a policy that all veterans who seek or are referred for mental health care should be screened within 24 hours, that those found to be at risk of suicide should be treated immediately, and that others should be scheduled for full diagnosis and treatment planning within two weeks. A new suicide-prevention hot line has been responsible for "more than 380 rescues," the lawyers said.

Erspamer, the plaintiffs' lawyer, was unimpressed.

"Nowhere do I see any explanation of what kind of systems they have in place that deal with suicidal veterans," he said. "There's no excuse for not spending the money Congress told them to spend on mental health care and leaving $60 million on the table when people are going out and killing themselves."

Most PTSD Treatments Not Proven Effective

Government Scientist Finds That One Therapy Is Shown to Help Disorder;  No Drugs Seen as Beneficial

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer


The majority of treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder that are used to treat hundreds of thousands of veterans lack rigorous scientific evidence that they are effective, according to a report issued yesterday by a panel of the federal government's top scientists.

The report by the National Academies emphasized that the therapies might not be useless. Rather, it said, the evidence is weak when it comes to drawing any kind of conclusion about most of them. The findings of the panel, widely considered the nation's most influential scientific arbiter, will have far-reaching consequences. The report comes when awareness of PTSD has risen as a result of its incidence among veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"If a treatment that is not shown to be efficacious is nevertheless delivered to veterans, and if the treatment is relatively inert, even if it does not harm the veterans, it may demoralize the veteran," said Richard McNally, a Harvard University psychologist and PTSD expert. "Providing treatments that do not have a good basis in evidence can result in people not improving, therefore getting demoralized and therefore not seeking treatment that can actually help them."

The report did find strong evidence that one particular treatment known as exposure therapy was effective; the technique asks patients to repeatedly reimagine traumatic events as a way to make the events lose their potency. In a statement, the Department of Veterans Affairs said it was ramping up its ability to provide this therapy to patients.

But the panel failed to find evidence that any medication was effective in treating PTSD -- this included the drugs Paxil and Zoloft, which have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat the disorder.

"A very high percentage of people who have been diagnosed with PTSD are on medications," said Larry Scott, the founder of the advocacy group VA Watchdog dot Org, which serves as an information clearinghouse for veterans.

Most of the evidence supporting the use of medications and psychological therapies for PTSD has been assembled by pharmaceutical companies that make the drugs or by researchers with conflicts of interest in the outcome of the studies, and lack independent and rigorous proof, the report said.

The researchers also found there was insufficient evidence to support the use of a range of psychotherapies known as cognitive restructuring, coping skills training, eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, and group therapy. Cognitive restructuring is a technique that trains patients to reinterpret a traumatic event from a different perspective. In the eye-movement therapy, patients are asked to think about traumatic memories while tracking quick movements of a therapist's finger.

A host of complicated political, economic and medical issues swirl around the issue of PTSD in a time of war. Many veterans advocacy groups are convinced that the government is trying to limit the spiraling costs of treating the flashbacks, anxieties and co-occurring psychiatric disorders that mark PTSD.

"I see the IOM report and the VA's acceptance as an indication that the agency will continue to move away from pharmaceutical-based therapies and group therapy for veterans with PTSD and continue to push their agenda of cognitive processing therapy as a 'cure,' as stated by former VA Secretary Jim Nicholson," Scott added. "If VA declares a veteran 'cured' of PTSD, this will mean the reduction or loss of disability compensation."

In the new report, scientists said evidence for many issues besides treatment efficacy was also limited. It is not clear, for example, how early treatment for PTSD should be started or how long such therapy should be offered.

"We found much of the research on PTSD to have major limitations when judged against contemporary standards for conducting trials," said Alfred O. Berg, professor of family medicine at the University of Washington, who chaired the panel that conducted a comprehensive review of the evidence for PTSD treatments.

Part of the problem, Berg said, is that studies for PTSD have been conducted over a long period of time. The modern standards the panel sought to apply simply happened to be much higher.

"Our report certainly must raise questions about treatments and whether they are effective or not, but our assessment of inadequate evidence does not mean the treatments are ineffective," Berg said. "It could mean some of the therapies are more effective than the exposure therapy, where we did find proof of effectiveness" but only that the other therapies lack evidence to show that this is the case.

Berg and another author, David Matchar, a professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, said a sustained national effort for high-quality research on PTSD, with a special focus on veterans and minority groups, was needed.

Edna B. Foa, a professor of clinical psychology in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, and one of the pioneers in developing exposure therapy as a PTSD treatment said the technique was based on the insight that many victims of trauma do all they can to avoid being reminded of traumatic events.

A rape victim might avoid going out in the evenings, while someone injured in an auto accident might avoid getting into any kind of vehicle. Soldiers might avoid movies or TV shows about war.

Two things happen in this process, Foa said. Patients come to replace actual recollections of trauma with other perceptions -- taking on blame and guilt, for example, for being afraid. Second, by avoiding situations, patients can fail to see that much of life is not dangerous -- the movie is only fiction.

Foa said she has patients recount traumatic events aloud with their eyes closed. She records the patient, and then has the patient listen to the tape repeatedly.

"People don't recover because they avoid thinking about the trauma," Foa said. "Every time the trauma comes to the mind, they push it away. They don't allow themselves to process and digest the memory, so it keeps on haunting them with nightmares, flashbacks."

Foa also has patients make lists of situations that trigger anxiety and encourages them to deliberately expose themselves to the least-frightening situation. As people realize that many situations are harmless, Foa said they replace images of self-doubt and helplessness with a more healthy outlook.

I been saying this for years..."welcome to my world"

Ron

Veterans are denied mental health help
By Philip Dine
POST-DISPATCH WASHINGTON BUREAU


WASHINGTON \ After two combat tours in Iraq on a "quick reaction team" that picked up body parts after suicide bombings, Donald Schmidt began suffering from nightmares and paranoia. Then he had a nervous breakdown.

The military discharged Schmidt last Oct. 31 for problems they said resulted not from post-traumatic stress disorder but rather from a personality disorder that pre-dated his military service.

Schmidt's mother, Patrice Semtner-Myers, says her son was told that if he agreed to leave the Army he'd get full benefits. Earlier this month, however, they got a bill in the mail from a collection agency working for the government, demanding that he repay his re-enlistment bonus, plus interest \ $14,597.72.

Schmidt, 23, who lives near Peoria, Ill., is one of more than 22,000 service members the military has discharged in recent years for "pre-existing personality disorders" it says were missed when they signed up.

"They used these guys up, and now they're done with them and they're throwing them away," Semtner-Myers said.

Her frustration extends to Capitol Hill, where the stage is being set for a confrontation between Congress and the Pentagon.

Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, calls the treatment of these troops "disgraceful."

"If they have personality disorders, how did they get in the military in the first place?" Filner asks. "You either have taken a kid below the standards, in which case you've got obligations after you send him to war, or you're putting these kids' futures in danger with false diagnoses. Either way it's criminal."

The Pentagon defends its policy.

"No military in the history of the world has done more to identify, evaluate, prevent and treat the mental health needs and concerns of its personnel," Defense Department spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith said. All cases of personality disorder discharges are diagnosed by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, and troops receive some benefits including health care, life insurance and education, she said.

Filner isn't buying it.

"These young people are being lied to and manipulated," he said. "We deny them proper classification so they can't get benefits, then they get this bill for a prorated signing bonus."

In the Senate, Missouri Republican Christopher "Kit" Bond, along with Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., is leading an effort to force the Pentagon to change its practice. Bond says it appears worse than the scandal earlier this year over poor conditions at Walter Reed hospital.

"This is a very sad story," Bond says. "We are fortunate enough to bring many severely wounded soldiers and Marines home, but we're not dealing with their mental health problems. They need help, not a discharge because some phony pre-existing condition is brought up."

'I JUST CRACKED'

William Wooldridge, 37, of Blytheville, Ark., re-enlisted shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He says he made the grade by losing 44 pounds in eight weeks by a combination of running and dieting.

But intense fighting combined with family problems \ his wife left him while he was in Iraq \ sent him into a mental tailspin.

"We're doing 20-24 hour days, sleeping underneath our trucks, people trying to kill us and blow us up," Wooldridge said. "Then I got a letter saying I didn't have a reason to come home \ and I just cracked."

Back in the United States, he continued to have blackouts, hear voices and have nighttime hallucinations of terrorism and children dying. The Army discharged him, citing a pre-existing personality disorder, even though several doctors diagnosed him as having post-traumatic stress.

"They told me the best way to handle it was to go along with a personality disorder discharge, that the (Veterans Administration) would take care of me. So I signed it and went to the VA, and the VA said, 'You were discharged with a personality disorder; you don't get any benefits.'

"I was no longer of any use to them."

Wooldridge says the military recently decided it had overpaid him for a period of time and is deducting $137.85 a month from his Social Security payments. He says he's unable mentally to hold a job.

"This is not the way I want to be," he says, "but it's the way I am."

Wooldridge appealed to the discharge review board in St. Louis, arguing that soldiers with conditions brought on or aggravated by service are supposed to be eligible for service-related assistance. He eventually got $2,635 in monthly benefits restored \ but not his self-pride.

"If there's really that many people who were dysfunctional going into the military, this country is one dysfunctional mess," he said.

CLINICALLY VALID?

Col. Bob Ireland, an Air Force psychiatrist and flight surgeon, is the Pentagon's program director for mental health policy.

He says as many as 100,000 service members have been diagnosed with personality disorders in the past six years. Discharges take place only where the disorders "are genuinely interfering with the ability of the unit to function," he said.

Troops suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder get the same extensive coverage as retired military personnel who spent their career in uniform, Ireland said, including lifetime benefits and VA treatment in a military hospital if needed. Along with that come various privileges, such as use of military recreational facilities.

Those discharged with pre-existing disorders get a reduced set of benefits equivalent to those provided to uninjured troops who did their tour and got an honorable discharge, including six months of treatment for some ailments, then two years of priority VA benefits; and GI education loans.

Soldiers who think they were misdiagnosed can appeal to a review board, he says.

"We track their deployment experience, including exposure to trauma. We track, 'Did you see dead bodies? Was it so horrible you couldn't shake it?'"

Asked whether the softening of basic training in recent years might be failing to weed out some troops while not preparing others for combat conditions, Ireland says that's possible \ and that the matter is being studied.

Although the Pentagon's policies are sound, he said, they may not always be carried out perfectly. "You need to make sure people have time to do an assessment, to do an adequate mental status exam. We have to make sure this process is clinically valid."

Dr. Karen Pentella, assistant clinical professor of neurology at Washington University's medical school, doubts that thousands of young men and women entered the military with personality disorders and now have problems unrelated to their military experiences.

"At this point it's not possible for us to know whether these people really have these disorders, because having been in combat, a lot of these people suffer from PTSD and many from TBI (traumatic brain injury). From explosions, their brains literally have been shaken up ... which helps explain why their personalities may be changing.

"It's too late when they get back from Iraq to say, 'Whoops, we missed it. Thanks for fighting, but you have a pre-existing condition.'"

'HEARING BOMBS'

Patty Harvey's son, Nick Harvey, 26, of Costa Mesa, Calif., was discharged from the Army after fighting in Iraq and has spent time in a variety of hospitals and now at home, often in what his mother describes as "almost a catatonic state."

Military doctors said he had a pre-existing personality disorder, meaning reduced benefits, but his mother disagrees.

"It's obvious what happened \ he gets into a war zone, the bombs are flipping him out, and all of a sudden he's an entirely different person. Before, he partied with his friends, was a surfer, played guitar like you couldn't believe. Now he has fears about everything, he has fears about the food he eats, he has fears about people poisoning him.

"He stays home every day. ... If this kid doesn't have PTSD, I don't know who does. But they won't give him the diagnosis unless I continue to fight, and I'm running out of fight."

Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., of the veterans panel, says the Pentagon has yet to come to grips with the problem.

"They're in denial," Hare says. "There was a huge mistake here. We need to stop it, and then see how it happened, ... I can't think of a crueler thing to do to people who defend the nation."

Hare says by his calculations, the Pentagon stood to "save $12.5 billion by doing what they're doing."

Bond and Obama secured an amendment to the Senate defense bill that restricts use of personality-disorder discharges. The House bill lacks that provision, and the Senate-House conference committee will soon try to reconcile the two bills.

Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., of the House Armed Services Committee, is on the conference panel. "My sense is if there's going to be any errors, it's on the side of making sure we're taking care of our troops properly," he says.


pdine@post-dispatch.com | 202-298-6880
-------------------------

Veteran stress cases up sharply

By Gregg Zoroya
USA TODAY
WASHINGTON \ The number of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder from the Department of Veterans Affairs jumped by nearly 20,000 \ almost 70% \ in the 12 months ending June 30, VA records show.

More than 100,000 combat veterans sought help for mental illness since the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001, about one in seven of those who have left active duty since then, according to VA records collected through June. Almost half of those were PTSD cases.

The numbers do not include thousands treated at storefront Vet Centers operated by the department across the country. Nor do they include active-duty personnel diagnosed with the disorder or former service members who have not sought VA treatment.

About 1.5 million U.S. troops have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Of those, 750,000 have left the military and are eligible for VA health care.

The nearly 50,000 VA-documented PTSD cases far exceed the 30,000 military personnel that the Pentagon officially classifies as wounded in the conflicts. The discrepancy underscores the view by military and civilian health officials, such as Lt. Gen. James Campbell, director of the Army staff, that troops tend to ignore, hide or fail to recognize their mental health wounds until after their military service.

PTSD cases often surface long after troops leave combat. A VA study in 1988, 13 years after the last U.S. troops left Vietnam, showed that 31% of the 3.1 million male Vietnam veterans had PTSD at some point after their service.

The total of mental health cases among war veterans grew by 58% from 63,767 on June 30, 2006, to 100,580 on June 30, 2007, VA records show. The mental health issues include PTSD, drug and alcohol dependency and depression. They involve troops who left the military and sought health care from the veterans department.

Mental health is the second-largest area of illness for which Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seek treatment at VA hospitals and clinics. It follows orthopedic problems and is increasing at a faster rate, the VA says.

The reality of troubled veterans is finally hitting the department, says Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a former soldier and member of the Senate subcommittee that oversees VA spending. "They're trying to catch up with a moving train because before c they weren't getting the resources they needed," Reed says.

The department says it began responding in 2005 to war-related needs, gradually increasing by 4,000 to nearly 11,000 the number of mental health specialists, spokeswoman Alison Aikele says.

"We are seeing the increase (in mental health cases), and we are preparing to deal with it," says Antonette Zeiss, the VA's deputy chief of mental health services.

The VA's challenge is to provide PTSD care, which is complicated and expensive, where veterans need it, says Joy Ilem, a Disabled American Veterans health specialist. Delays in treatment, she says, put veterans at risk for drug or alcohol abuse or even suicide.



 News:

Little Bear Maurice Baily a Vets Vet!

"Vet's Vet"
By Greg Johnson
Frontiersman
Published on Thursday, November 15, 2007 8:04 PM AKST

Courtesy photo Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, right, poses with Maurice Bailey, the 2007 recipient of the Governors Veterans Advocacy Award. Parnell presented the award on behalf of the governor for Baileys outstanding volunteer service to the veteran community.


WASILLA Ask Maurice Bailey about himself and hell tell you he isnt anything special.

A 68-year-old retiree, Bailey has led an exemplary life. He served 20 years honorably in the military as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army and helicopter crew chief. He completed two tours in Vietnam and retired in 1976 at Fort Wainwright. Although Bailey performed with distinction his military duties, it has been his selfless service since his active duty that is making a difference for Alaskas veterans.

Bailey is president and one of the founders of Veterans Aviation Outreach, a nonprofit organization that provides help, support and fellowship for Alaska veterans, even in remote areas. Support can range from simple advice about how to apply for Veterans Administration benefits to organizing a construction crew to build a cabin. Wherever there are veterans in need, the VAO will respond, Bailey said. While Bailey spends his retirement working behind the scenes to help other veterans, he was on center stage Sunday to receive recognition for his efforts to improve the lives of Alaska veterans. During a ceremony at Camp Denali at the Alaska National Guard headquarters, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell and Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Commissioner Maj. Gen. Craig E. Campbell presented Bailey with the Governors Veterans Advocacy Award.

Although pleased and proud, Bailey admits to feeling humbled for being honored simply for doing the right thing.

I didnt believe it, he said about learning he would receive recognition from the governor. I thought I was going about doing what I was doing and never thought about getting an award. We didnt set out and plan [Veterans Aviation Outreach], it just came about. We started doing it because it was the right thing to do.

What VAO does is respond to communities throughout Alaska, large and small, and contact veterans about their specific needs, Bailey said. In some cases, its helping veterans properly fill out paperwork to access the benefits theyve already earned with their military service. In other cases its providing solutions for everyday life challenges. If veterans in an outlying area have trouble making a Veterans Administration appointment, funeral or health care checkup, VAO will fly them from their rural areas to urban centers.
We fly out and we do whatevers needed, Bailey said. If people need access ramps, we build them. If they need cabins rebuilt, we get carpenters and help rebuild them.

In September, Baileys organization gave out 4,165 pounds of moose meat. It was meat from guided hunts where the hunters may have been interested in the trophy from the animal and donated the rest to veterans.

Its a win-win situation, Bailey said. Hunters leave feeling good because that meat goes to veterans.

Bailey tells of one instance in Naknek, where a small group of veterans would gather wood pallets from around town and cut them up for firewood. They had a single hand saw and the work was slow and hard. For Bailey, the solution was simple. He purchased a chainsaw at Wal-Mart and sent it to them. Now, the chain saw is kept at a local service station and when needed, is checked out for use.

Its a great feeling helping [veterans], Bailey said. Thats why I do it. Im a feel-good junkie.

Baileys efforts and service epitomizes the spirit of Alaska, Gov. Sarah Palin said. His can-do attitude is helping those who have given the most to our country. I am very proud of what he does for our veterans community and I am proud to give him this award.

Bailey has resisted suggestions to grow his organization to be very large. Then, it would be a bureaucracy and he wouldnt have the direct contact helping other veterans he has now. He also preaches military service is what defines a veteran, not the nature of the service.

Combat, no combat, Iraq, World War II, it doesnt matter, he said. If theyve never left the state, it doesnt matter. Youre still a veteran.

When receiving his gold-engraved award on Veterans Day, Bailey said his mind was racing.

I thought, you know what, I must be the luckiest person in the whole world to receive such an honor, he said. The people here in Alaska are very supportive of their veterans and are becoming more and more aware of what veterans mean to us here and to America.

Contact Greg Johnson at greg.johnson@frontiersman.com or 352-2268.

To find out more about Aviation Outreach go to  http://vaoonline.org

The headline trumpeted; VA Increases Travel Reimbursement for Eligible Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs politburo smiled benevolently at us as they said: "Over a million eligible veterans will see their mileage reimbursement more than double starting tomorrow, for travel to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities."

The newest temporary employee of the DVA, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake, smugly touted;"Increasing the mileage reimbursement is one more step by VA to help veterans access the health care they deserve."

The propaganda ministry of the DVA continued in that same happy vein, cowtowing to their latest boss's ego; "After little more then a month on the job, Secretary Peake used his authority to establish the first increase in the mileage reimbursement in 30 years, fulfilling a pledge he made during his Senate confirmation hearing last month."

Later they quietly mentioned that VA also equally increased the deductible amounts applied to certain mileage reimbursements. The new deductibles are $7.77 for a one way trip, $15.54 for a round trip.

Oh sure, these deductibles may be waived if there is "financial hardship to the veteran". The savvy Veteran will soon see that there isn't any explanation of what gfinancial hardshiph is or any instructions on how to apply.

I was at my VA hospital yesterday and asked about my hardship waiver at the paymaster's window. As you would expect, they had no idea what I was talking about and were visibly irritated that I asked. Apparently I should have been grateful that my mileage reimbursement had "more than doubled" and since I wasn't, I was an ingrate and didn't understand how good my life was because of my VA.

Did Secretary Peake "use his authority" to increase that rate? Of course not. This is hogwash of the purest kind. It's exactly what we expected from this glory seeker and was as predictable as the sunrise.

The legislation to increase the travel rate was introduced in the Congress a year ago. There were various bills floating around and flowery speeches by concerned Congressmen who are always on the alert to look out for the Veteran as long as it brings them votes.

My own Congressman, Representative John Barrow, introduced H.AMDT.70 to H.R.1538 on 3/28/2007. This amendment would have eliminated the deductible as well as changed the method of determining the mileage reimbursement rate.

That original legislation, H.R.1538, was introduced by Representative Ike Skelton of Missouri on 3/15/2007 and had 28 cosponsors in the House of Representatives.

The process of getting legislation through the House to the Senate to the desk of the President of the United States is circuitous at best. It's often said that nobody really wants to see how laws nor sausages are made.

As this all made its way to the Senate, it read like this:


S.1283

Wounded Warrior Assistance Act of 2007 (Introduced in Senate)

SEC. 303. VETERANS BENEFICIARY TRAVEL PROGRAM.

(a) Elimination of Deductible- Subsection (c) of section 111 of title 38, United States Code, is repealed.

(b) Determination of Mileage Reimbursement Rate-

(1) DETERMINATION- Paragraph (1) of subsection (g) of such section is amended to read as follows:

'(1) In determining the amount of allowances or reimbursement to be paid under this section, the Secretary shall use the mileage reimbursement rates for the use of privately owned vehicles by Government employees on official business, as prescribed by the Administrator of General Services under section 5707(b) of title 5, United States Code.'.

(2) CONFORMING AMENDMENT- Subsection (g) of such section is further amended by striking paragraphs (3) and (4).

(c) Source of Funds- Such section is further amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

`(i) Funds for payments made under this section shall be appropriated separately from other amounts appropriated for the Department.'.

500.

Effective Date- The amendments made by this Act shall apply with respect to travel expenses incurred after the expiration of the 90-day period that begins on the date of the enactment of this Act.


It seemed that by now our elected representatives agreed that the proposal to eliminate the deductible would be repealed. There's no explanation for that but still, the language that says, gthe Secretary shall use the mileage reimbursement rates for the use of privately owned vehicles by Government employees on official businessh sounds pretty good.

The mileage rate for the use of a private vehicle is mandated by law to increase every year. There's no necessity for new legislation and ongoing debate, the Congress has done a great job of protecting their staff and themselves. Each year, a raise is automatic and is usually hefty.

On the U.S. General Services Administration web site you'll find an "Important notice regarding 2008 rates".

This important notice to federal employees...this would include Dr. Peake and his staff...gives them a hopeful notice that;

"GSA is currently in the process of evaluating data for consideration of new mileage reimbursement rates to which federal employees would receive when using their privately owned vehicles for official government business.

By Law, GSA is responsible for reviewing the privately owned vehicle mileage reimbursement mileage rate on a yearly basis. However, by law, GSA may not exceed the standard mileage reimbursement rate for a privately owned automobile (POA) established by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)."

No rate has been set for 2008. That's not too bad for Dr. Peake and his staff because the 2007 rate is $0.485 per mile if no government owned vehicle is available for their use.

If a government owned vehicle is available and his assistant chooses to use his own vehicle anyhow, that rate drops to $0.285 per mile. if the federal employee decides the weather is good and rides his motorcycle rather than using a government sedan, the rate is calculated at $0.305 per mile.

Jumping into the Wayback Machine we see the steady progression of mileage rates for the staff of your Department of Veterans Affairs. January 1, 2004 was $0.375 per mile. January 21, 2002 brought $0.365 per mile. January 14, 2000 would net the VA employee $0.325 per mile. Back in 1995 the VA Secretary was himself getting $0.30 per mile. Read it for yourself at www.gsa.gov/mileage .

While enjoying your reading, it's worth noting the VA Secretary doesn't have any deductible applied.

In January of 2008, if a Veteran made a 200 mile round trip to receive earned and necessary treatment at a VA hospital, he would have been given .11 x 200 = $22.00 minus a $6.00 deductible for a net of $16.00.

Today, that same trip will calculate to $57.00 minus $15.54 to equal $41.46.

If Dr. Peake decides that he isn't going to use his government issued vehicle but rather drive the family Mercedes today, his 200 mile round trip will earn him a flat reimbursement of $97.00.

That $97.00 will increase soon, probably by the traditional 3% or so. Dr. Peake will be handed a crisp, new $100.00 bill and some change for his troubles. It'll rise another 3% or more for him in 2009, 2010, 2011 and so on. Yours, if you're very fortunate, will see a raise in 2038.

If you drive a Ford F-150, a working man's vehicle, and see 14 miles per gallon, your cost per mile is $0.21. That's assuming gas costs you $2.96 per gallon.

http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/b
usiness/20060510_LEONHARDT/cost_per_mile.html

That 200 mile round trip cost you $42.00 in gas alone, not factoring in wear and tear on your truck. You just lost on the deal with your mileage reimbursement being $41.46. If gas prices go up, you lose more.

Dr. Peake, snuggled comfortably into his newer model Mercedes-Benz S-Class is paying about $0.16 per mile. His 200 mile round trip set him back some $32.00 in gas costs. His reimbursement was $97.00 so he pockets about $65.00 to spend on that vehicle's wear and tear.

The arrogance, the overbearing pride, the sheer hubris shown by Dr. Peake in announcing that, "This increase helps veterans -- especially those living in rural areas -- offset some of the gasoline costs as they travel to VAfs world-class health care." boggles the mind.

Once again, we are assumed by our DVA to be world class buffoons. We're supposed to jump for joy that we dogs of war have been tossed a dry, meatless bone to gnaw at for another 3 decades.

I, for one, remain deeply offended. This is far too little, far too late. You, the American warrior, that proud Veteran, has been slapped down again by a system that holds you in deep disdain.

If war is hell, coming home to this may be worse.


 News

The New AA-12 Shotgun for the Military
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4ebtj1jR7c

Now I want one of these puppies..look out ducks!


Tax Rebate Checks Coming in May
President Bush signed the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 on February 13, which provides many American taxpayers with rebates ranging from $300 to $1200. The U.S. Treasury will begin sending rebate checks to approximately 3.9 million North Carolina households beginning in May. Most Americans will receive their rebates simply by having filed a 2007 tax return that meets the rebate requirements. The Internal Revenue Service has more information on its web site. The Treasury Department has a fact sheet with information on how income levels affect the tax rebates.

Senate Passes Economic Stimulus Bill

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer


The Senate today added payments for seniors and disabled veterans to an economic stimulus package approved by the House that would send checks to most American families, then overwhelmingly approved the $151 billion shot in the arm to the U.S. economy, 81-16.

The House is scheduled to give final approval to the legislation tonight and send the plan to President Bush for his signature, ensuring that checks will begin reaching families by mid-May.

"This is the Senate at its finest, recognizing this was an opportunity to demonstrate to the public that we could come together, do something important for the country and do it quickly," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). "We were able to put aside our differences, not only in the Senate but with our colleagues in the House and with the administration."

"It's tremendous what we've been able to accomplish," added Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

The legislation would provide $600 payments for individuals -- $1,200 for couples -- plus $300 for each child under 17. It would begin to phase out eligibility at $75,000 in adjusted gross income for individuals and $150,000 for couples. Workers who can show $3,000 in earned income last year--not enough to pay taxes--would be eligible for payments of $300.

Businesses also would be given generous incentives to invest in new plants and equipment. The Federal Housing Administration and the federally-backed mortgage consolidators Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be allowed to insure larger home mortgages.

On a 91-6 vote, the Senate added a provision granting $300 checks to seniors, disabled veterans and veterans' widows who can show $3,000 in Social Security or veterans' disability benefits last year. Senators also tightened rules to prevent illegal immigrants from claiming payments. In all, the tax checks will cost the Treasury $105.7 billion, all of it added to the budget deficit.

Senate Democrats had wanted a considerably larger package that included an extension of unemployment insurance, billions of dollars in energy tax credits and federally backed bonds for home construction. The Senate plan also would have ensured that poor seniors, veterans and workers who earn too little to pay income tax would have received $500 checks, the same amount that would have gone to working individuals. And it would have doubled eligibility thresholds, to $150,000 in income for individuals and $300,000 for couples.

But when a filibuster of that plan survived by a single vote, House Democratic leaders publicly pressured their Senate colleagues to scale back their ambitions and move fast.

"There is no reason for any more delay on this," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned in a public break with the Senate leadership. "I don't think any change in the bill is really worth the delay."

Congress's action on the stimulus package was remarkably fast, reflecting not only growing concerns in Washington that the nation has already slipped into recession but the desire to persuade voters that Washington can get something done. It took just two weeks for House Republican and Democratic leaders to forge the initial deal with President Bush, for the House to pass it overwhelmingly, and for the Senate to put its final stamp on legislation.

Reid raised eyebrows last month when he promised final action before Congress leaves for the Presidents' Day recess Feb. 15. Congress beat the deadline by more than a week.

"The news is, we got there. We got there in record time," McConnell said.

The process threatened to become a partisan brawl as Senate Democrats -- and some Republicans -- sought significant changes to the House plan. Republicans complained that Democrats were slowing the process to add pet projects that would run up the federal deficit.

When the Senate Finance Committee's stimulus bill was rejected Wednesday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee immediately put out news releases that accused Sens. McConnell, John Sununu (R-N.H.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) as the deciding votes to kill the package. All of them face re-election in November.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) quickly criticized Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the front-runner for the Republican White House nomination, for sitting out the vote. McCain faced the difficult choice of siding with moderate Republicans for the Senate package just before a high-stakes address to the GOP's conservative wing, or voting with conservatives against a package with broad political appeal. He was present for today's votes.

"Sen. McCain already told us he doesn't understand the economy," said Clinton spokesman Phil Singer. "Now he's proven that he doesn't understand the economic struggles our middle class families face as our economy slides into a recession."

Reid worked overnight to pick up a 60th vote, leaning hardest on Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio). But rank-and-file Democrats yesterday told leaders it was time to claim victory on the changes that Republican leaders would accept, then start anew on another economic stimulus package that picks up the other provisions, especially unemployment insurance extensions and heating assistance for the poor.

"We stood our ground. Seniors had been left by the side of the road by the president. We added veterans," said Sen. Claire C. McCaskill (R-Mo.). "It was time to declare victory and move on to the next stimulus package within only a few weeks."

Even after striking the final deal, Senate Democrats made it clear they would let voters know which parts of the Senate package were left on the cutting room floor by GOP opposition.

"This is substance on the Senate floor, and people should be held accountable, pure and simple," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "If people pay a political price for doing the wrong thing, that's the way the system works."

Republicans were equally confident the showdown will be forgotten as soon as the checks arrive.

"Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are the winners," McConnell said. "The winner is the American people."

Vietnam denies McCain Cuban torture claim

 Hanoi (dpa) - Former Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp officials Tuesday denied claims made by Senator John McCain, and supported by US government research, that Cuban interrogators tortured American POWs in Hanoi during the Vietnam War.

Campaigning last month, Republican presidential candidate and former Vietnam POW McCain said fellow POWs had been tortured by "a couple of Cubans."
On Monday, Cuban President Fidel Castro denounced McCain for making the claim, calling it "a strange legend."

Vietnamese officials and former POW camp administrators supported Castro.

"I don't think there was any Cuban involvement in any camp for US POWs," said Tran Trong Duyet, who was director of Hoa Lo prison, known by the Americans as the "Hanoi Hilton," from 1970 to 1973.

"No Cubans ever came to the prison while the US pilots were there," said Nguyen Thi Don, former manager of the Hoa Lo prison museum. "It is incorrect for John McCain to have made such a statement."

McCain's claims are backed up by substantial US government research and by the testimony of other former POWs. When they returned to the US in 1973, POWs who had been held at a camp they nicknamed "the Zoo," separate from Hoa Lo prison, reported that between 1967 and 1968 several Caucasians with Spanish accents ran an interrogation programme there which involved severe beatings and torture.

The Americans nicknamed the leader of the group "Fidel." The longest-held US pilot, Everett Alvarez Jr, wrote in his memoirs that he surmised "Fidel" was Cuban because of his accent and his familiarity with Central America and the southeast United States.

According to Alvarez and other former POWs, Vietnamese camp administrators became increasingly sceptical of the Cubans, and terminated their programme after it caused the death of an American pilot.

In testimony to Congress in 1999, the US Department of Defence said it had researched what it called the "Cuban Programme" from 1973 on, and had tentatively identified "Fidel" as a Cuban Interior Ministry official who had lived in the US in the 1950s.

Vietnamese officials routinely deny American POW claims that they were tortured or mistreated.

McCain is viewed positively by some Vietnamese, because of his advocacy in the Senate for improved US-Vietnam relations. But other Vietnamese, including Duyet, criticise his hawkish views on the war.

Duyet said he had met McCain many times during the five years he spent as a POW. "He was very extreme, conservative and warlike," Duyet said.


 War Stories

This Month 1969
Choppers Add Firepower, Light to Diamond Defense
By 1LT BERNARDINO VARGAS

  CU CHI - Seconds after the first enemy fire slammed into Patrol Base Diamond III,three-minute alert gunship crews of the 25th Aviation Battalion's Bravo Company were sprinting for their aircraft. Responding to the base's 3 a.m. call, the Diamondheads guided their Cobras through gathering overcast toward the action and were quickly directed in to the assistance of the embattled infantry.
  They found the scene of the action covered with low clouds and were forced to work down in the cauldron of fire that Patrol Base Diamond III had become. Swooping in by the light of flares flickering eerily on the low clouds, the Diamondheads scourged the attacking NVA with mini-gun and rocket fire. Under direction of the ground commanders, the gunships engaged the enemy right up to the edge of the perimeter.
  With the pressure on the infantry eased, the Diamondheads pounced on .51 caliber machine gun positions that had been trying to break up the helicopter attacks. Eight were suppressed with rocket fire. Diamondhead fire teams alternated on station over Diamond III all through the attack. By 5:15 a.m. all the NVA who weren't on the ground were going some place else, and the firing died down. The gunships continued to orbit protectively over the base until 9 a.m.
FSB Diamond Thwarts Fierce Attack
By 1LT J. N. Black

  CU CHI - While North Vietnamese forces took more than 100 U.S. bases under fire the 2d Brigade Fire Support Base Diamond blatantly challenged the enemy only three clicks from the Cambodian border, tempting the Reds to strike.
  At approximately two a.m. the 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry soldiers received initial small arms and mortar fire from positions along the Cambodian border. With rapid reactions, the U.S. troops called in supporting artillery and gunships to blast the enemy.
  However the hard-hitting NVA attack came swiftly and vigorously from the south forcing the Americans into last ditch efforts. The ruthless advances of the estimated two regiments made normal reactionary procedures impossible and only close defensive artillery fires could rout the persistent NVA.
  During the 10-hour battle the small U.S. base put out maximum fire power. Air strikes and artillery forced the NVA into the killing zone.
  By the afternoon of Feb. 23, the Americans had tallied some 109 enemy bodies and later sweeps uncovered another eighteen. Weapons captured included 12 AK-47fs, seven RPG launchers and 53 rounds, two pistols, three 60mm mortars complete and 15 rounds, four 82mm mortar rounds, a quarter pound of enemy documents and assorted small arms and munitions.
  During the next 24 hours the 2d Brigade Wolfhounds stood prepared but unchallenged by the inscrutable enemy. Yet on the early morning of the 25th the 9th Division NVA made a fast but futile second assault on Diamond.
  Again, rockets and mortars rained in on U.S. positions announcing the attack, but staunchly prepared Tropic Lightning soldiers defended the base, killing 78 enemy with a possible 50 more, taking two wounded prisoners and capturing an arsenal of weapons.
  The Tropic Lightning victory was credited to three main factors. The first factor was the hard fighting, platoon-sized ambush patrols which were located in the path of the oncoming attacks. A second factor was the skilled infantrymen and artillerymen who defended the perimeter. The last factor was the truly devastating fire laid down by Tropic Lightning artillery, gunships, and tactical air strikes.
  The ambush patrols kept the enemy off balance, as he initiated the early morning attack. As the fighting erupted an ambush patrol south of the Fire Brigade base found itself surrounded by a large enemy force. Artillery was called in surrounding Wolfhounds with a wall of flying shrapnel. The persistent enemy continued his march to the small base despite the heavy artillery.
  Platoon Sergeant Gonzales A. Marquez, Columbus, Ga., said, gI shot my M-16 into the chest of an enemy soldier and pulled the trigger.h
  The ambush patrol, now fighting for its life, was forced to fight its way through masses of well-armed enemy.
  An ambush patrol to the north found itself on the flank of a massive NVA force. They directed artillery into the enemy and knocked out two mortar positions, disorganizing the planned attack.
  The North Vietnamese force attacked Diamondfs wire under the cover of a barrage of mortar and rocket rounds. The enemyfs attack was so devastating that for a short time the southern portion of the perimeter was so covered with smoke, dirt and debris that the area was neutralized.
  Sergeant First Class Preston Rowser of Detroit, moved to a position during the attack where he could see the advancing enemy, knocking back any who dared advance.
  A final, powerful punch was provided by Tropic Lightning artillery and gunships. Big guns pounded the advancing enemy throughout the assault.
  Fighting got so close at one time that according to artilleryman Specialist 4 John Jasinski, St. Paul, Minn., gwhen I turned around and saw them on top of our protective berm, we traversed the gun on them and started firing point blank. It was just like a firefight but we were using 105s.h
  Combined body count for the two nights of action by the Tropic Lightning soldiers was over 200. Serious damage has been done to a prime enemy division.
February: Cruel Days For Charlie
By PFC Harold Anderson

  CU CHI - Fortunately for VC and NVA forces February was a short month. But unfortunately for Charlie, the 28 days of February marked substantial losses in men and material.
  During last month Tropic Lightning soldiers killed 1,040 enemy and discovered a mammoth enemy cache containing more than 315 tons of rice. (See pages 4 and 5 for details on rice story.)  Division troops also captured 306 enemy small arms and 148 crew-served weapons.
  With the approach of the Tet holidays in the middle of the month, intelligence reports indicated that VC and NVA elements planned attacks similar to those they had sprung during Tet, 1968.
  Finally, near the end of the month, the enemy came out of hiding and launched coordinated attacks on 25th Division base camps at Dau Tieng and Cu Chi, as well as fire support bases Diamond and Mahone II and other locations.
  At Dau Tieng, infantrymen, cooks, clerks and other support elements of the 3d Brigade killed 73 of the enemy who had penetrated portions of the campfs perimeter. During the attack, hundreds of rockets, mortars, and RPG rounds struck the base camp.
  With the coming of daylight, the 3d Brigade soldiers had driven the enemy out of the camp, detaining 13.
  Enemy munitions captured at Dau Tieng included forty 60 millimeter mortar rounds, 76 B-40 rounds and seven launchers, 26 B-41 rounds and one launcher, 25 AK-47s, 205 satchel charges, 29 RPG boosters, five bangalore torpedoes and three claymore mines.
  At Cu Chi, the enemy launched a three-pronged ground assault against division headquarters. Elements of an estimated NVA gsapperh battalion infiltrated the campfs perimeter, but due to quick work by helicopters, artillery, and spookies, they were repelled. Thirty-one enemy were killed and eight more were detained.
  Confiscated during the fray were 36 RPG rocket launchers, three AK-47 rifles, 125 satchel charges, 38 grenades, and one bangalore torpedo.
  Tropic Lightning soldiers at Fire Support Base Diamond, three miles southwest of Go Dau Ha turned back a hard-hitting attack by an estimated two regiments of NVA. During a 10-hour battle, the small U.S. base put out maximum fire and called in air strikes and artillery to force the enemy into the killing zone.
  By the time the enemy was driven off, the Americans tallied 185 enemy killed in two days of action. Weapons captured included 12 AK-47s, seven RPG launchers and 53 rounds, two pistols, three 60mm mortars complete and 15 rounds, and four 82mm mortar rounds.
  At Fire Support Base Mahone II, southeast of Dau Tieng, 3d Brigade infantrymen repulsed still another attack by an unknown number of enemy, killing 38 of them.
 General Vo Nguyen Giap.
General Giap was a brilliant, highly respected leader of the North Vietnam military. The following quote is from his memoirs currently found in the Vietnam war memorial in Hanoi:

"What we still don't understand is why you Americans stopped the bombing of Hanoi. You had us on the ropes. If you had pressed us a little harder, just for another day or two, we were ready to surrender! It was the same at the battles of TET. You defeated us! We knew it, and we thought you knew it. But we were elated to notice your media was definitely helping us. They were causing more disruption in America than we could in the battlefields. We were ready to surrender. You had won!"

General Giap has published his memoirs and confirmed what most Americans knew. The Vietnam war was not lost in Vietnam -- it was lost at home. The exact same slippery slope, sponsored by the US media, is currently well underway. It exposes the enormous power of a biased media to cut out the heart and will of the American public.

A truism worthy of note: Do not fear the enemy, for they can take only your life. Fear the media far more, for they will destroy your honor.

Neat story from WW2

The strategic bridge at Remagen, Germany was constructed during WW I at the urging of Germany's generals, so more troops and war materials could be brought to their Western Front.
The bridge was 300 yards long, measured 90 feet above the Rhine, and supported two sets of railroad lines. With good fortune intertwined with the incompetence of the Germans in charge, our troops captured it. Ike Eisenhower reported that the captured bridge was worth its weight in gold.
Hitler was so outraged by its loss that he ordered all of the responsible officers to be summarily shot.

 The bridge was then attacked by German dive bombers and at least of one team of demolition-trained German ' frog men' snorkeling explosives under the surface of the river.
And here is a correlative combat story from one of our more ancient fighter pilot jocks : Flying P-38's, we were flying patrol over Remagen bridge. The Germans were trying to dive bomb the bridge and the 474th fighter group and my 429th fighter squadron of P-38s were trying to keep them from it.
Our Squadron Commander, James Cobb was lead, and I was his element lead in a flight of four. We were circling that key bridge at about 18M, when a flight of ( 4 ) four FW-190s crossed below us at about 15M.
They saw us attacking, and split in twos, Major Cobb dove on the right pair and I took after the left pair.  I was closing fast . . and began scoring a few hits when
' W-H-A-M ! '  my wingman Byers slammed hard into me . . from directly above.
The impact was so great I couldn't breathe.
Even with a backpack parachute on, my seat back had knocked the breath out of me . . and now our two aircraft were e stuck together. e All I could see was the greasy belly of an engine nacelle that'd crushed my canopy down on my head. And my left prop was chewing on his airplane.
The vibration was terrible.
Instinctively, I yanked all the power off. This action caused us to break apart. I never saw the other P-38 again, but others in the squadron watched it tumble, burn, then hit the ground. Byers never got out."
When we broke apart, we were going straight down in a left spiral. I pulled up into a shallow glide. The left engine was on fire. I quickly turned off the fuel and ignition and prepared to bail out. The big old Rhine River was right below. Thinking ahead, I only assumed everything West of the Rhine was friendly territory. To be certain, I punched up 9th TAC Fighter Control on the radio and asked.  And they came right back with a splendid : ' YES. '
Now, my left engine fire was flickering out. I had attempted to feather its prop, but because its blades were bent into grotesque shapes it would not feather. Worse, the twisted blades kept ' flipping around ' . . causing the P-38 to sort of ' cork screwing' itself through the air.
The right engine's prop was wind milling smoothly, so I turned the engine's fuel and ignition back on. As I eased the fuel mixture up to rich that sweetheart engine began running like a top.
I headed west toward our home base in Belgium, the magnetic compass was uselessly swinging from side to side. And the grotesquely twisted prop kept flipping over and over.
Soon, the squadron caught up with me, and led me home. Major Cobb moved in close as I dropped the landing gear. He flew under then said it looked O.K. On  the other hand, I was worried about how the left wing's damage would cause the airplane to behave when I stalled it.
After everyone else was safely on the ground, I decided to check it out. Just as I pulled the nose up, it went into a wicked stall at fast 130 mph. However, on the other hand, the overall result was very fortunate. The twisted prop had seized and it stopped flipping around and that gave me a considerably more stable landing platform.
At 150 mph I smoked it on to the runway . . then carefully got all over the brakes as hard as I dared . . slowing it enough to make the final turn-off at the end of the runway. The first hardstand was empty, so I spun around and parked it on the spot.
" What a ride ! . . This fantastic P-38 had saved my butt . .one more time ! "
cplgarrahy@earthlink.net
Belgian Adventure
This is as close as you can get to the facts of life. It really is amazing. While in Belgium a year or so ago, specifically in a little town called Henry Chapel, a huge military cemetery lies there on top of a bluff overlooking the large town of Aachen.  The cemetery contains those not sent home after the battle of Aachen, late 1944 - which took about a week. About 83,000 GIs from all services died during the battle - they did not go home. The cemetery is beautiful, it is eerily still - wind blowing the American Stars and Strips - not many visitors.
We carefully walk through the marble giant portico, listing hundreds of names of the missing, while listening to the wind blowing through the marble columns. Suddenly there was an old man standing there, facing the cemetery, hand over his heart and later saluting the flag - I automatically did so too. We looked at him and watched him - I was close to shed tears - blaming it on the wind. I approached him, and saluted him - he smiled back and returned my military salute. What was I thinking - obviously an old GI reminiscing? He was indeed a lone survivor of the Battle of The Bulge, making his "last" tour of the European GI cemeteries. I asked with whom he had been during the war - the Rangers - Merrill's Marauders............and Omaha Beach. I about fell to the ground, having grown up among the Rangers, being one and having commanded the 2nd Ranger Company, at Camp Frank D Merrill, in Dahlonega, Georgia - circa 1972-73. I said little, just watched him. One more time he looked up at the briskly snapping "Old Glory", and stepped away into an Embassy Van.
I never knew who he was - but will always remember the meeting on the bluff at Henry Chapel, in Belgium. I turned and also looked one more time at the beautifully laid out cemetery with its crosses and Jewish Stars of David. No care takers were about - it was Sunday, December 29th, 2005. I will probably never forget the old GI, the salute, and brief conversation with an old Ranger - who I knew went through hell to come out alive and visit his comrades at this lone cemetery. I don't think he will ever return. Rob Amiot



 Stories

 THIS IS TRULY THOUGHT PROVOKING. TAKE THE TIME TO READ IT

 There was a chemistry professor in a large college that had some  exchange students in his class. One day while the class was in the lab, the professor noticed one young man, an exchange student, who kept rubbing his back and stretching as if his back hurt.
 The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow  his country's government and install a new communist regime.
 In the midst of his story, he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked: "Do you know how to catch wild pigs?"
 The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said that it was no joke.
 You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come everyday to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a  fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming.
 When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side.
 The pigs, which are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat that free corn again.
 You then slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd. Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught.
 Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.
 The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening in America. The government keeps pushing us toward Communism/Socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income, tax cuts, tax exemptions, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies, payments not to plant crops (CRP), welfare, medicine, drugs, etc., while we  continually lose our freedoms, just a little at a time.
 One should always remember two truths:
 1) There is no such thing as a free lunch.
 2) And you can never hire someone to provide a service for you cheaper than you can do it yourself.
God help you when the gate slams shut!



 Humor

Ten Reasons Men Prefer Guns Over Women
#10. You can trade an old 44 for a new 22.

#9. You can keep one gun at home and have another for when you're on the road.

#8. If you admire a friend's gun and tell him so, he will probably let you try it out a few times.

#7. Your primary gun doesn't mind if you keep another gun for a backup.

#6. Your gun will stay with you even if you run out of ammo.

#5. A gun doesn't take up a lot of closet space.

#4. Guns function normally every day of the month.

#3. A gun doesn't ask , "Do these new grips make me look fat?"

#2. A gun doesn't mind if you go to sleep after you use it.

#1. YOU CAN BUY A SILENCER FOR A GUN



"We 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 Trees?--Ron