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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Cold War Veteran Denied PTSD Service Connection

; Zombie Tank not supported by credible evidence

April 25, 2012

In the 1996 case of White v. Brown, an appellate court affirmed a 1992 denial of services for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to a veteran of the Cold War. Joseph White alleged flashbacks to his time stationed in Germany from 1950-1953 and specific incidents of violent crowd control along the East-West border in Berlin. But PTSD services from Veterans Affairs require corroboration of the events causing the stress. Not surprisingly, the zombie doesn’t appear in White’s service record. The appellate court affirms based on lack of credible evidence of the stressor.

zombie ww2 politics russia

No. 95-526
1996 U.S. Vet. App. LEXIS 448
Decided – June 26, 1996

The appellant served with the United States Army from 1950 to 1953. He first sought service connection for a “nervous condition” in October 1989. In mid-1990, he alleged that this condition was PTSD. In connection with this claim, he stated that he had “vivid color halusinations [sic] of the riot team in Berlin[,] Germany[,] when a Russian tank driver . . . ran right over the little girl on the bridge killing her.” He also claimed that he attended group therapy and had been under the care of two doctors for the preceding three years.

In response to a request for more information, the appellant submitted a personal statement, a statement of his wife, and news photographs. In his personal statement, he recounted being stationed at the border between East and West Germany and seeing Russian tanks “hub-to-hub with all guns knowingly pointed at our five direction posts”. He alleged that, in June 1953, while assigned to “clear all the streets of East Berlin people who refused to return to the Eastzone,” he came upon a German man who would not obey the appellant’s order. The man told his dog to attack, and “while the dog was in mid-air[, the
appellant] cut him from tail to neck areas.” The appellant stated that he would “never forget the German’s eyes, as he picked up his dog and walked on.” The appellant further alleged that on another occasion, he had just moved a woman and her approximately 8 to 10 year old daughter toward a bridge entering the east zone. . . . This lady and her child was [sic] within 25 yards of this small bridge when a Russian tank drove onto the bridge. . . . The woman climbed up on the rail of the bridge. She turned to aid her child, when . . . I saw the woman screaming at the tankdriver and she was unable to grasp her child. The zombie like tankdriver without a change of expression drove his tank over that little girl. Some of her bodyparts exploded toward me. . . .

In addition to the above, the VA regional office obtained outpatient treatment records, including reports of group therapy sessions the appellant participated in from 1990 to 1991 during which the appellant related, inter alia, nightmares, flashbacks, and “rage episodes,” often concerning World War II and the Korean War. These records reflected diagnoses of PTSD in January through March 1991, June 1991, and December 1991.

So to recap, White alleges flashbacks and nightmares caused by his crowd control in East Berlin in the early 1950′s, where he claims to have killed a German dog and have seen a child crushed by a Russian tank. But he also flashes back to World War 2 and Korea (wars that he definitely did not serve)

The Court notes that incidents like

killing a dog are seldom found in the combat records [and] Unless an official report was filed concerning the incident with the little girl, we are unable to document this event

Ans so since the alleged incidents did not happen during combat, White’s account must be “corroborated by credible evidence” See 38 C.F.R. § 3.304(f). The Court found it was not.

It’s a shame we don’t fully take care of the psychological needs of all veterans regardless of the documentation of cause. Of course, it is the early 1990′s so who wouldn’t want to argue for free psychiatric treatment based on something that no one knows happened forty years earlier. Still, this case is another instance of WW2 era Russians being called zombies, and an instance of the word appearing in a case where the petitioner’s claims are minimized and denied.


Executive Order Safeguards Military from Predatory Schools

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2012 – President Barack Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, today visited with 3rd Infantry Division soldiers at Fort Stewart, Ga., and discussed a new executive order that helps to safeguard military education benefits and protect service members from predatory schools.

Obama and the first lady expressed their desire to protect military members, veterans and their families from predatory recruiters offering bogus and costly education programs.

"I’ve heard the stories … you may have experienced it yourselves. You go online to try and find the best school for military members or your spouses or other family members," President Obama said. "You end up on a website that looks official. They ask you for your email, they ask you for your phone number, they promise to link you up with a program that fits your goals."

Obama pointed to certain schools that "aren’t interested in helping" because "they don’t care about you; they care about the cash," later referring to them as "appalling" and "disgraceful" and something that "should never happen in America."

"I’m not talking about all schools," the president noted. "Many of them, for-profit and nonprofit, provide quality education to our service members and our veterans and their families. But there are some bad actors out there."

Obama declared he was "going to put an end" to hidden high-interest student loans, non-transferrable credits and non-existent job placement programs used as tactics to "swindle and hoodwink" troops through his signature today of an executive order.

According to the president, the order requires colleges to provide clear information about qualifications and financial aid through access to a fact sheet called "Know Before You Owe," and providing increased support through counseling.

"If you’ve got to move because of a deployment or reassignment, they’ve got to help you come up with a plan that you can still get your degree," he said. "[And] we’re going to bring an end to the aggressive, and sometimes, dishonest recruiting that takes place."

Obama also indicated tougher restrictions to colleges and universities allowed on military installations and increased vigilance to prevent improper education program recruiting practices.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta lauded the president’s and first lady’s commitment to protect the military, veterans and their families.

"I applaud the steps, President and Mrs. Obama, announced today to ensure military and veterans’ educational benefits meet the needs of service members, veterans, and their families," he said. "Ensuring quality educational opportunities are available to those who have served our nation in uniform is an essential part of enabling them to compete in today’s economy."

America’s men and women in uniform and military veterans "have fought and risked their lives for this country," the secretary said. "They represent a generation of Americans returning home from war with unique experience and skills that make them invaluable in schools, workplaces, and communities across America and the world."

Panetta said the demands of military service can make it difficult to find the right information from schools, especially those engaged in aggressive, deceptive recruiting practices.

"This initiative will ensure that service members, veterans, and their families have the information and support they need to make informed decisions about their well-earned educational benefits," he said. "This effort helps preserve our nation’s legacy, going back to the original GI Bill, of doing all that we can to help our troops lead productive and successful lives after leaving the military."

The defense secretary said Obama’s executive order is another example of the president’s "strong support" to troops and their families. Panetta thanked the president and first lady for their commitment to "these brave young men and women."

The first lady touched on the "Joining Forces" campaign during her remarks today to soldiers at Fort Stewart. Established about a year ago, "Joining Forces" is a nationwide campaign that was created to recognize, honor and support veterans, troops and military families. The first lady started the "Joining Forces" campaign with Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden.

"In our first year alone, more than 1,600 businesses hired more than 60,000 veterans, and they pledged to hire at least 170,000 more in the coming years," the first lady said of some results of "Joining Forces" campaign efforts.

The Commander in Chief commended the division’s soldiers for their "unshakable commitment to our country" as they performed "heroically in some of the most dangerous places on earth."

"You have done everything that has been asked of you and more," Obama said. "You have earned a special place in our nation’s history."

Leon E. Panetta

It is a slippery slope when you limit what institutions can qualify for Post 9/11 GI Bill money. Executive order seems a little extreme . who is deciding who and who is not a predatory institution. if you donate heavily to Democratic causes will you get preferential treatment. Who will decide. i don’t like it bad precedent. My daughter wants to go to a Business College will that be banned?

IAVA : VA is not delivering timely mental health care


The VA is clearly broken—and our vets deserve answers.

For years, we’ve heard from IAVA members that the VA is not delivering timely mental health care. This week, the VA’s own Inspector General confirmed it. What’s worse, the Inspector General found that the VA’s own records of wait times “had no real value.” Less than half of vets received a full evaluation within 14 days of seeking mental health care—despite VA claims that rate was 95 percent.

Sign IAVA’s open letter to VA Secretary Shinseki demanding accountability for our nation’s veterans.

It’s estimated that 18 veterans commit suicide every day. VA Secretary Shinseki owes our community straight talk and a bold plan outlining how the VA will improve care for veterans of all generations.

As suicide rates skyrocket, delays at the VA should outrage every IAVA supporter —and the entire country. If you had a chest wound or broken leg, you wouldn’t tolerate waiting to see a doctor. Yet, an Afghanistan vet seeking care in Spokane, Washington faces an 80-day average wait for an appointment to see a VA psychiatrist.

Watch a quick video from the Inspector General’s Senate hearing this week. Then add your name to IAVA’s open letter demanding answers from VA Secretary Shinseki.

Every day we hear from IAVA members at local events and across Twitter and Facebook about the bureaucratic delays that they face. But IAVA refuses to let vets slip through the cracks in their toughest moments of need. All veterans deserve a dynamic 21st century VA system that is responsive to their needs from the first day they get home through the rest of their lives.

Stand with us to demand answers and accountability.


Paul Rieckhoff
Founder and Executive Director
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

PS – Every year IAVA sends dozens of new vets to Storm the Hill. This past March, we met with over 140 Congressional offices to outline concrete solutions for improving VA care. Read our recommendations in IAVA’s 2012 Policy Agenda.

Miller: “Choice is Not Dictated by Imperial Fiat”

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, issued the following statement on President Obama’s Executive Order, “We Can’t Wait:”

“More than 600,000 veterans have used the Post-9/11 GI Bill to improve themselves and their futures through higher education. Consumers should be informed, especially when taxpayer dollars are involved. For example, any student applying for college can access the College Navigator website, which contains 272 data points on every school approved for federal education benefits. This data includes graduation rates, indebtedness, gender, ethnicity, public and private financial aid, school costs, student calculators, and hundreds of other factors related to school quality and performance.

“Veterans should be given every opportunity to make an informed choice about their education, but choice is not dictated by imperial fiat. Accusing the for-profit school system of profiteering, a move designed to put fully accredited and GI Bill-approved colleges and universities—employing thousands of educators—out of business, is not the answer. The President could, instead, use the bully pulpit to encourage states to grant veterans in-state tuition, accept military training credit, and allow credits to transfer from accredited institutions. Each of these would lower the cost of education for veterans, and taxpayers.

“There are already ample resources to police the ‘bad actors’ in the education system—a characteristic not limited to for-profit schools. State Approving Agencies act as VA’s agent and inspect schools as part of the approval process. The Federal Trade Commission can enforce sanctions against tactics like false advertising. And accrediting bodies have the ability to enforce standards and refer violations of law and regulations to the appropriate enforcement agency, while state licensing authorities can also shut down a school’s operations completely.

“This Executive Order represents an unnecessary attack on the free market. As with most industries, the free market will police itself when consumers are equipped with factual information about goods and services they intend to buy. This has the effect of weeding out the bad and rewarding the good. The education industry is no exception.”

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It is about choice in a vets education. Diploma Mills online scams I see as possible problem but dictating on where and how they pursue educational opportunities is unacceptable. Would you want to be told on where you could or couldn’t attend classes? Do not force that on Veterans receiving their Post 9/11 GI Bill

House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – Markup of H.R. 4072, H.R. 4114, H.R. 4201, H.R. 4482, and H.R. 3670

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On Friday, April 27, 2012, at 9:45 a.m., in Room 334 of the Cannon House Office Building, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will meet for the consideration of pending legislation.

WHO: House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

WHAT: Markup of H.R. 4072, H.R. 4114, H.R. 4201, H.R. 4482, and H.R. 3670

WHEN: 9:45 a.m., Friday, April 27, 2012, Room 334, Cannon House Office Building


H.R. 4072: The Consolidating Veteran Employment Services for Improved Performance Act of 2012, with an amendment in the nature of a substitute. Introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller.

H.R. 4114: The Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2012. Introduced by Rep. Jon Runyan.

H.R. 4201: The Servicemember Family Protection Act. Introduced by Rep. Mike Turner.

H.R. 4482: To amend Title 38, United States Code, to make permanent home loan guaranty programs for veterans regarding adjustable rate mortgages and hybrid adjustable rate mortgages. Introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller.

H.R. 3670: To require the Transportation Security Administration to comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. Introduced by Rep. Tim Walz.

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Alert on Important Legislation! Feature Upgrade Secure Messaging,


As an upgraded My HealtheVet user, Erie VA Medical Center would like to invite you to begin using a new feature called Secure Messaging, which allows you to communicate electronically with your VA health care team, and select specialty care teams online.

Here’s how to begin using Secure Messaging:

  1. Sign into My HealtheVet

If you do not remember your My HealtheVet username and password, use the “Forgot User ID?” and “Forgot Password?” links in the Member Login box.

  1. OPT-IN

Once you have signed in, click on the red “SECURE MESSAGING” tab at the top of the screen. Then, click on the orange “Open Secure Messaging” button. You will be asked to read and review the terms and conditions. Select “OPT-IN” to the terms and conditions. (“Opt-out” means you do not wish to participate).

  1. Send a Secure Message

Agreeing to the terms and conditions of this feature will take you to your Secure Messaging Inbox, where you will be able to communicate with your provider if he or she is currently using Secure Messaging. Click on the “New Message” blue button on the left hand side of the screen to create a new message. Click on the “To” dropdown box to choose what team you would like to message.

  1. Set Your Preferences

On the right hand corner of Secure Message screen select the “Preferences” link to open your Preferences page. Under the New Message Notification section, enter your email address so you can receive notifications of new secure messages in your My HealtheVet account. Hit the apply button once you have made the changes.

  1. Set up is complete! Congratulations.
    Secure Messaging should only be used to communicate non-urgent, health-related questions, comments or concerns with your health care team. Each team has three business days to address your message.

If you have any questions, please call me at 814-860-2097 . Please do not respond to this email message. You can use the Secure Messaging MHV Customer Service team if you have a question about My HealtheVet. Thank you!

Sarah Gudgeon
My HealtheVet Coordinator
Erie VA Medical Center
814-860-2097 (office) | Facebook | Twitter

Settlement clears way for cross in Mojave Desert

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A veterans group can restore a memorial cross in the Mojave Desert under a court settlement that ends a decade-old legal battle, the National Park Service said Tuesday.

A federal judge approved the lawsuit settlement on Monday, permitting the park service to turn over a remote hilltop area known as Sunrise Rock to a Veteran of Foreign Wars post in Barstow and the Veterans Home of California-Barstow.

The park will give up the acre of land in exchange for five acres of donated property elsewhere in the 1.6 million acre preserve in Southern California.

The swap, which could be completed by the end of the year, will permit veterans to restore a cross to the site and end a controversy that became tangled in the thorny issues of patriotism and religion and made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003.

The last cross was ordered removed by the park service in 2010 because of a court order.

The donated land is owned by Henry and Wanda Sandoz of Yucca Valley.

Henry Sandoz, 72, cared for and replaced several crosses at the hilltop site over the years that were later defaced or stolen. He has a replacement 7-foot steel cross ready to go, said his wife, Wanda, 68.

"We’re very hopeful. We’ve been disappointed in the past," she said in a telephone interview. "We thought when the Supreme Court ruled that we’d be out there within days putting it back up. Things move kind of slow but we really think this is it this time."

Once the swap is complete, the park service will fence the site, leaving entrances for visitors, and post signs noting that it is private land. A plaque will be placed on the rock noting that it is a memorial for U.S. war veterans.

"We want to wrap this, we want to get it done," Mojave National Preserve spokeswoman Linda Slater said of the controversy. "No cross can go up until the exchange is complete."

Wanda Sandoz said a wooden cross was first erected on Sunrise Rock in 1934 by a World War I veteran, Riley Bembry. He and other shell-shocked vets had gone out to the desert to recover and would hold barbeques and barn dances near the site, she said.

Her husband knew Bembry and promised the dying vet that he would look after the cross, Wanda Sandoz said. He kept the promise for decades.

"We love the cross," she said. "It’s in a beautiful spot. … My husband is not a veteran but he feels like this is something he can do for our country."

The wooden cross was eventually replaced with one made of steel pipes. However, the site became part of the national preserve in 1994 and that meant the cross was then on public land.

The settlement involves a lawsuit filed in 2001 by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a retired park service employee who argued that the Christian religious symbol was unconstitutionally located on government land. Federal courts ordered the removal of the cross.

In 2003, Congress stepped in and ordered the land swap. But the courts said the transfer was, in effect, an unacceptable end run around the constitutional problem.

The issue wound its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in April 2010 refused to order removal of the cross and directed a federal judge to look again at the congressional transfer plan.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, siding with the 5-4 majority, wrote that the cross evokes more than religion.

"It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten," he said.

Justice John Paul Stevens, one of the dissenters, wrote that troops killed in battle deserve to be honored, but government "cannot lawfully do so by continued endorsement of a starkly sectarian message."

Weeks after the court decision, the metal cross — which had been covered up to comply with court injunctions — was stolen. A replica mysteriously appeared on the site, but park service officials ordered it taken down because of a court order against displaying a cross on the site.

A second lawsuit was filed last year against the federal government on behalf of the veterans. That suit pushed for the land swap and will be dropped once the exchange is complete, said Gregg Wooding of the Liberty Institute, a Texas-based nonprofit legal organization that filed the suit.


Miller: “It’s About Time

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, issued the following statement on the Office of Management and Budget’s announcement that VA healthcare is exempt from sequestration:

“This decision, nine months in coming and after numerous Congressional inquiries and my own letter to the President in January, is long overdue. Unfortunately, this move demonstrates the Administration’s penchant for political brinksmanship even when it concerns those who have served this nation with honor.

“Months ago, GAO provided the Committee in a matter of days, the same analysis that OMB has now provided to GAO. Yet, the Administration would not act and held America’s veterans hostage over a simple legal clarification.

“It’s about time OMB issued this decision and got serious about sequestration and VA. OMB did, however, leave the door open to other legal avenues to sequester VA, which is not acceptable. I plan to follow up with the Administration regarding ‘other potential sequester questions…’ as suggested in today’s letter to GAO.

“If the Administration will not close the door, I will. To ensure VA is fully exempt from sequestration, I am committed to the passage of H.R. 3895, the Protect VA Healthcare Act of 2012 to ensure America’s veterans receive the benefits they have rightfully earned today, and in the future.”

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Letter to ACWV Forum

Hello Gentlemen,

I am looking forward to our May 1st meeting in D.C. We as Members need to stay focused on the goals of this organization. We have

established a tradition of meeting and visiting our respective representatives in House and Senate offices every year on this date. I think it is

important we maintain our presence there as well as our ceremony at Arlington.

In May of 2010 I asked to be removed from the Board due to health and time issues. In the last year I have recharged my batteries taking

a hiatus from my blog for 3 months for a time from ACWV activities for the first time in 5 years. Current members might well understand the

reason why it is necessary to take a break and refocus to prevent burning out. I sit here today on the eve of our meeting in Washington

D.C. renewed with a new enthusiasm and vigor ready to work for our cause. It is why I have asked the leadership at ACWV Inc. to

reinstate me as a Board Member.

As far as the Cold War Salute Project goes there are some real questions that have to be asked about our contractual relationship if any ,

liability, tax concerns are just to name a few. Any of our Members especially Board Members involved directly or indirectly in this project may

not be appropriate as it may open us up to litigation and tax problems. I think if we donate or sponsor part of the ride as a group it is more

appropriate and we should insulate ourselves from the a fore mentioned possible pitfalls. Well that’s my take on that. looking forward to

seeing those of you who will be there in D. C.

President Pays Tribute to Wounded Warriors on Soldier Ride

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2012 – President Barack Obama cheered for 22 wounded warriors taking part in a Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride yesterday, calling it "one of the most inspiring events" to take place at the White House.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
President Barack Obama cheers on participants in the Wounded Warrior Soldier Ride on the South Lawn of the White House, April 20, 2012. (White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Soldier Rides are four-day cycling events designed to "use cycling and the bonds of service to overcome physical, mental or emotional wounds," according the Wounded Warrior Project website. This was the fourth year the White House hosted a Soldier Ride, and it included members of each military service and the Coast Guard. The events have been occurring for six years. "I’m glad to see you’re all decked out in the stars and stripes, because I want anybody who sees this ride go by to know that they’re in the presence of heroes," Obama told the colorful group of riders on the South Lawn.

Obama pointed out a few of the riders and their physical challenges: Max Rohn, who lost a leg in Fallujah, Iraq, during a grenade attack; Leslie Smith, who lost a leg and her eyesight in Bosnia, who rode tandem yesterday; and brothers Erik and Deven Schei, who also rode together on a tandem bike.

"When Erik enlisted in the Army, Deven made a promise that if anything bad ever happened, he would finish what his brother started," the president said. "During his second tour in Iraq, Erik was shot in the head by a sniper. So Deven enlisted. Then two years ago, Deven was injured in Afghanistan. And now the two brothers ride a specially made tandem bike, with Deven leading the way. They’re taking on this latest challenge just like they did every other one — together."

Veterans Administration Secretary Eric Shinseki, also attended the event and cheered on the riders. The president promised to do everything he could to make sure wounded warriors and other veterans get the care and benefits they earned.

"All of you have served your country. That’s why now it’s time for the country to serve you. That’s what you deserve, and here in America we take care of our own," Obama said.

The president said the riders participated in the challenge for a variety of reasons.

"Some of you may be athletes looking to get the competitive juices flowing again," he said. "Maybe some of you are trying to see how far you can push yourselves. Some of you are doing it for the camaraderie and the bond that comes when you work hard alongside people who know what you’re going through.

"Maybe you’re doing it to honor a loved one or a buddy," the president added. "But all of you are here because you believe in living your lives to the fullest. You know that each of us has a responsibility to seize the opportunities we’ve been blessed with. You ride because you can, and you ride for those who can’t. That’s what this is all about."

The president also welcomed the 200 U.S. service members whom the White House invited to cheer on the riders as they circled the South Lawn.Fifty troops each represented the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

Obama paid tribute to the riders’ military family members who were in attendance.

"[They] don’t wear a uniform, but … work just as hard and sacrifice just as much alongside you," he told the riders.

The president said the soldier rides across the country remind U.S. citizens to support the men and women who serve for other Americans. He encouraged citizens to show their support for the riders and thank them for their service by cheering them along in communities around the country.

Wounded warrior riders have clocked miles this year on Soldier Rides through Chicago, New York, Seattle, Phoenix, San Antonio and Miami, Key West, Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn., North Fork, Calif. and Landstuhl, Germany.

"We are proud of you. Your country is proud of you," the president told the riders. He then sounded the horn to start the ride of three laps around the South Lawn of the White House.

Related Sites:
Wounded Warrior Project
The White House Blog: President Obama Welcomes the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride