As the Author of the #1 Amazon National-International Best Seller War Memoir “Battling the Storm Within” about living 20 years undiagnosed with PTSD, MST and the GWI. My mission is to empower others to address their own personal traumas, be healed, restored and live again. I believe in telling the truth, living the truth and being the truth. I will share the truth for it sets you free. I have battled my storm that was within me and won, so can you! Peace and blessings Sgt. Stephanie J. Shannon
Opened late last month, the 10,000-square-foot Green Road Outpatient Clinic, 2500 Green Road, is managed by the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. The VA Ann Arbor operates several major outpatient community clinics, including ones in Flint, Toledo and Jackson.
There has always been some disconnect between veterans and medical marijuana.
Although there has been plenty of evidence to suggest cannabis would be beneficial to veterans for a wide array of ailments, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been reluctant to allow their doctors to formally recommend it as a treatment option. However, as the VA rolls out a new medical marijuana policy tor vets, it appears doctors are now permitted to at least discuss potential use with their patients.
Two veterans groups have filed a lawsuit against the Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security, alleging that the government is illegally denying records requests involving sexual assault and harassment cases.
The two veterans advocate groups — Protect Our Defenders and the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center — filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court Wednesday.
After their service in the Gulf War conflict from 1990-1991, hundreds of thousands of our country’s veterans began suffering from multiple and diverse debilitating symptoms including neurological and respiratory disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, psychological problems, skin conditions and gastrointestinal issues
At approximately 5:10 p.m. on September 7, 2016, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (NP) at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, heard screaming from an office adjacent to hers at Munson Army Health Center. The civilian NP ran into the hallway and found 26-year-old 1LT Katie Ann Blanchard, an active duty Registered Nurse (RN) and mother of three, on fire from the waist up. (Details of the attack from the FBI Criminal Complaint, dated 8SEP16 can be found here.)
For military women, before #MeToo there was #NotInvisible, our attempt to draw attention to the epidemic of sexual assault in the military which continues to be largely ignored by the American public. Now as the #MeToo reckoning sweeps other industries, from Hollywood to politics, America is once again leaving service women behind
False complaints of sexual abuse in the military are rising at a faster rate than overall reports of sexual assault, a trend that could harm combat readiness, analysts say.
Virtually all media attention on a Pentagon report last week focused on an increase in service members’ claims of sexual abuse in an anonymous survey, but unmentioned were statistics showing that a significant percentage of such actually investigated cases were baseless.
WASHINGTON — Pressurized oxygen chambers, light-emitting helmets and neck injections are all treatments the Department of Veterans Affairs is using to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
Following an announcement last week that the VA would offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy to some veterans with PTSD, the agency said Thursday that the move is part of an effort to explore alternatives to the traditional therapies for PTSD and TBI, VA Secretary David Shulkin said in a statement.
My post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) requires so much energy and planning to manage on a daily basis. But who am I kidding? It’s often hourly and sometimes minute by minute. For me, it’s basically a full-time job with no benefits, lousy hours and no overtime pay — but plenty of overtime, and an asshole for a boss.
Imagine surviving two deployments in Iraq, constantly dodging bombs and enemy gunfire, only to realize that the air you were once thankful to be able to breathe was making you sick. This is what happened to Sergeant Major Rob Bowman, who passed away from cholangiocarcinoma, a rare form of bile duct cancer, at the age of 44.
Unfortunately, as many military families know all too well, Sergeant Major Bowman’s situation is not unique. “Of the 30 men in Rob’s platoon who returned home, nearly one-third of them developed uncommon cancers and medical conditions,” said Coleen Bowman, Rob’s surviving spouse, “and the first doctor we saw confirmed immediately that the cause of Rob’s cancer was environmental, not genetic.”
The U.S. military is preparing to accept transgender recruits for the first time beginning in January, the Pentagon said Wednesday, the latest signal that President Trump’s desired ban may not materialize after all.
Officials are “taking steps to be prepared” to bring in the first transgender recruits on Jan. 1, as required by a federal court order issued recently, said Army Maj. David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman. He declined to comment further, citing open litigation, but said that the Defense Department and Justice Department are consulting on the issue.
WASHINGTON - A Defense Department review released Tuesday found significant failures throughout the military to report violent offenders to federal law enforcement, a breakdown that allowed Air Force veteran Devin Kelley to purchase the firearms he used to commit a massacre in Texas last month.
Yet while the focus in that case has been the Air Force’s failure to submit Kelley’s criminal history to the FBI’s background-check database, the other military services mostly performed far worse.
Donald Trump, from the outset, cast himself as a champion of veterans, and promised that he would improve veterans care as president.
But the toxic right-wing ideology of Trump and his administration has nonetheless seeped into the way they take care of and prioritize veterans.
According to Politico, a popular program to house homeless veterans is on the chopping block — and at the worst possible moment:
Veterans discharged under conditions other than dishonorable who served in the Southwest Asia theater of military operations, which includes the areas specified by regulation, but not Afghanistan, may be entitled to disability compensation for certain undiagnosed illnesses, certain diagnosable chronic disability patterns, and certain presumptive diseases ( as described below) even though these disorders did not become manifest during qualifying service. Veterans who served in Afghanistan on or after September 19, 2001, may be entitled to disability compensation for certain presumptive diseases.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has reversed course on a plan to essentially end a $460 million program that helps provide housing to homeless veterans after facing blowback when news of the decision broke.
VA Secretary David Shulkin said in a statement that “there will be absolutely no change in the funding to support our homeless programs,” and the department “will not be shifting any homeless program money to the Choice program,” which allows veterans to seek health care at facilities outside the VA
The Friday before Thanksgiving, the Pentagon quietly and for the first time released raw figures on the number of reports of sexual assault across all U.S. military installations at home and abroad, by base. The release of this data generated a certain momentary buzz in headlines across the U.S., but failed to provide context in terms of rates by population.
Large bases with greater numbers of personnel could be expected to generate larger numbers of reports; but without a sense of rate by population size of the base it continues to be impossible to compare bases with one another. But never fear, not-so-gentle Internet. Those missing context-providing rates can be generated from verified population figures, and we’ve done that work.
The US military that won Desert Storm or Gulf War I in 1991 was a spectacular military, a gargantuan industrial age military with high tech weaponry and well trained personnel, that when called upon, achieved victory with the speed of Patton and the elan of Teddy Roosevelt.
Overlooking the vast eight mile carnage on the Highway of Death in Kuwait, destruction that was caused by a US Air Force and Navy that bore almost no resemblance to the two services now, a sergeant in the 7th US Cavalry remarked, “America sure got its money’s worth from those Joes.”
Neurosurgeon John Henry Schneider racked up more than a dozen malpractice claims and settlements in two states, including cases alleging he made surgical mistakes that left patients maimed, paralyzed or dead.
While serving in the Army, Stephanie was sexually assaulted. She carried her pain home with her and had trouble finding emotional, financial, and familial support. After finding the courage to reach out to VA and open up to treatment, she uncovered the tools to empower herself and her son.
About 20 veterans commit suicide every day. The primary enemy most veterans face after service is not war-related trauma but loneliness, according to a new study by researchers at Yale and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The study, scheduled to be published Oct. 1 in the journal World Psychiatry, followed 2,000 veterans over a period of four years to help explain why studies have shown that vets are more than twice as likely to kill themselves as their civilian counterparts. At enrollment, the participants never had suicidal thoughts and were representative of U.S. military veterans as a whole: They were predominantly older, with an average age of 62, and two-thirds had never seen combat.
There were an estimated 15,000 sexual assaults in the U.S. military last year.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has reintroduced her Military Justice Improvement Act that would put military sex assault prosecutions in the hands of trained prosecutors. She spoke on CBS This Morning.
Congress should act swiftly to approve long overdue legislation introduced Thursday to strengthen the prosecution of sexual assault in the military.
The Defense Department estimates that about 8,600 women and 6,300 men were sexually assaulted in our armed forces last year. Most victims were attacked more than once, resulting in over 70,000 sexual assaults in 2016 alone.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, it’s expected that about a half-million will be alive at the end of 2017.
Many veterans of this and other conflicts will take with them stories of service that can’t be replaced. Some will have earned commendations they mentioned only in passing, or ignored out of modesty, or locked away alongside painful memories.
WASHINGTON — A veteran committed suicide by setting himself on fire in front of a New Jersey VA clinic after staff at the clinic repeatedly failed to ensure he received adequate mental health care, an investigation of the death found.
Department of Veterans Affairs staff canceled an appointment Charles Ingram had in fall 2015 because a provider was unavailable, didn’t follow up to reschedule, and when he walked into the clinic to ask for an appointment, they didn’t schedule it until three months later, the VA inspector general found.
Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET Wednesday
After thousands of U.S. veterans won a class action suit against the military over being used in chemical and biological testing, the Army says it will pay for their medical care. But the group's attorneys say the service is falling short of meeting its obligations and that it's withholding details veterans are seeking about what agents they were exposed to.
The Army says veterans can be treated for any injuries or diseases caused after the service used the soldiers as research subjects in the period from 1942 to 1975.
In recent years, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), has been taken a lot more seriously. But, the general public is often not aware of the struggles returning veterans have with the disorder.
Stephanie Shannon is a veteran of Desert Storm and Desert Shield operations during the first Gulf War. She’s the founder and CEO of Michigan Women Veterans Empowerment and she joined Stateside to talk about how women who fight for our country deserve more recognition for their service.
This report provides a national baseline and comparative portrait of the health of women who have served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and those who have not. Findings highlight the positive health experiences as well as health challenges affecting women who have served. In particular, key findings from the most recent period, 2014-2015, indicate that as compared to women who have not served, those who have served have:
Significantly higher overall rates of mental illness including lifetime depression, any mental illness in the past year, and suicidal thoughts in the past year.
Better overall self-reported health status, yet significantly higher rates of chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease, COPD, cancer, and arthritis.
Significantly higher overall rates of health insurance coverage, access to primary care, and utilization of preventive services such as cancer screenings.
Significantly lower overall rates of physical inactivity and obesity, yet higher rates of insufficient sleep.
WASHINGTON – People with a history of “self-mutilation,” bipolar disorder, depression and drug and alcohol abuse can now seek waivers to join the Army under an unannounced policy enacted in August, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY.
The decision to open Army recruiting to those with mental health conditions comes as the service faces the challenging goal of recruiting 80,000 new soldiers through September 2018. To meet last year's goal of 69,000, the Army accepted more recruits who fared poorly on aptitude tests, increased the number of waivers granted for marijuana use and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses.
A new study reveals distinct molecular mechanisms underlying two long-misunderstood brain disorders: chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and Gulf War Illness (GWI). These two illnesses, which were long thought to be psychological in nature, share significant commonalities such as pain, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, and exhaustion after exercise.
Combat in the Gulf War of 1990-91 lasted less than two months, but it’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of the troops who served in the Middle East during that time may still experience symptoms of Gulf War Illness (GWI). Thought to be caused by exposure to chemical and biological weapons or other hazardous chemicals, GWI’s symptoms include difficulties with memory and speech, mood swings, and chronic pain.
Two studies presented at the annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting on November 11 and 14 provide some clues to GWI’s biological basis. The first, described by Anika Patil of Drexel University College of Medicine, treated cultured rat neurons with a sarin gas analogue, and found it led to the deacetylation—and destabilization—of the cells’ microtubules, which are needed to transport mitochondria and other cellular components. Pretreating the cells with corticosterone to mimic the effects of stress exacerbated the effect. For deployed service members, “there is an ongoing stress from the moment you leave until the moment you return,” commented Col. Deborah Whitmer of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, who moderated a press conference about the findings.
While the Harvey Weinstein scandal has focused the attention of the public on sexual assault in the workplace, it is important to note that one highly regarded American institution, the U.S. military, has been struggling with the issue for more than 25 years.
Each time new scandals involving the services become public, the uniformed military leaders force some service members to retire early, promise to increase training and announce a zero tolerance policy. But what they and their supporters will not do is remove the cases from the chain of command, that is, place sexual assault accusations in the hands of military lawyers free of influence or impact by the commanders where sexual assault incidents are alleged to have occurred.
Are America’s best days behind us? And if so, what can we do about it?
For years, Americans have been losing faith in our institutions, and many are asking questions like this about our country’s future.
No national institution is suffering a crisis of trust more than Congress. Public confidence in Congress hovers slightly above 10%, down 30 points since 1986.
Every single day, one of the 2.2 million women veterans in our country walks into her local Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital. When she enters the building, she will likely be met with a sign on the door that reads: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and his widow and his orphan,” the motto of the VA. Perhaps she’ll even think twice about going in.
Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center have found distinct molecular signatures in two brain disorders long thought to be psychological in origin—chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and Gulf War Illness (GWI).
In addition, the work supports a previous observation by GUMC investigators of two variants of GWI. The disorders share commonalities, such as pain, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and exhaustion after exercise.
Veterans Day is an occasion to recall the service of our troops. But women’s stories have often been absent from those recollections. Works of fiction and nonfiction, memoirs (such as Mary Jennings Hegar’s), documentaries (including “The Invisible War”) and dramas (such as “Blood Stripe”) have helped show this side of the armed forces.
Still, myths about female veterans endure. Kayla Williams, who wrote a memoir about serving as an Army linguist in Iraq, remembers an infantryman who was “sure that women troops would be flown by helicopter to shower every three days.” Here are some of the most persistent misconceptions.
On this Veterans Day, let’s take an opportunity to dispel a few misconceptions about veterans.
First off, veterans tend to look different than the “all-American hero” stereotype some people might imagine. Indeed, the military is in many ways as diverse as the rest of the nation.
A full 30% of the active military and selected reserve force identifies as black or Latino, which is about the same as the percentage nationwide.
In 2012 the American Public Health Association, (APHA), one of the country’s foremost health organizations and publisher of the influential American Journal of Public Health, adopted a policy statement calling for the cessation of military recruiting in public elementary and secondary schools.
APHA demands the elimination of the No Child Left Behind Act requirement that high schools both be open to military recruiters and turn over contact information on all students to recruiters and eliminating practices that encourage military recruiters to approach adolescents in US public high schools to enlist in the military services.1
“Every morning when I wake up, a memory of what happened to me in Iraq lingers in my mind,” retired Marine Sgt. Carlos Villasenor recounts in a new PBS documentary. “They didn't really prepare us on how to feel or how to react coming home.”
And when Villasenor turned to the VA for help, the agency canceled a scheduled appointment with him and promised to call back soon to reschedule.
I n the 1980s, around the time of the massive deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, I was working toward my degree in clinical psychology by training at a psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C. One sweet, diminutive, elderly patient sometimes wandered the halls. She had been committed to the hospital after she stabbed someone in a supermarket. She was what is sometimes referred to as a revolving-door patient: She was schizophrenic and heard frightening voices in her head, and when she became psychotic enough, she would be hospitalized, stabilized on medication, and then released back to the community. There she would soon go off her medication, become psychotic, be rehospitalized, stabilized again on medication, released, etc.
BUFFALO, N.Y. – New legislation in Erie County called the “Theft of Valor” law aims to crack down on and criminally prosecute people who impersonate veterans.
County Legislator Edward Rath proposed the Theft of Valor law and the proposal passed unanimously on Thursday. The legislature’s hope is that it will be signed by county executive Mark Poloncarz in time for Veterans Day, which is next Saturday, Nov. 11.
The VA just kept sending him more prescriptions through the mail," said Duncan. "He attempted suicide in January by taking all the pills. After that he was prescribed more medications that made him depressed."
On March 3, Duncan found her father's body inside his Brazos County home. The 67-year-old Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War used a handgun to take his own life.
For Jennifer Dischler, it was her years in the Illinois National Guard that gave her a deep respect for military veterans — and her career as a social worker at Pleasant View in Ottawa.
Friday, Nov. 3, with rifle in hand, she will be showing that respect as the first of 96 veterans to take a 15-minute watch during the ninth annual 24-hour Veterans Honor Guard Vigil at the War Memorial in downtown Ottawa’s Washington Square.
It’s never been easy to be a woman in the Marine Corps, which is the most physically demanding branch of the military and the one with the smallest percentage of female service members: 7.6 percent. Disturbing revelations in March made it even tougher: Male members of the 30,000-strong Marines United Facebook group had been soliciting and posting explicit photos of current and former female Marines without their permission, often accompanied by violent and obscene comments.
This happened a while ago, but it contains one of the most beautiful expressions of love I’ve every seen so I couldn’t help but share it again here.
Back in September 2010, U.S Army 1st Lt. Todd Weaver was serving in Afghanistan when he was killed by an explosive device.
His widow, Emma, was devasted, and his 9-month-old daughter, Kylie, would never know her loving daddy.
Todd’s body was flown back to the U.S. and he was given a hero’s funeral in Arlington National Cemetery.
WASHINGTON — A group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is demanding the Department of Veterans Affairs change its motto, which they argue is sexist, outdated and exclusionary.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an organization with approximately 425,000 members, has advocated all year for expanded services for women veterans. The group renewed its efforts this week to challenge the VA’s motto by sending a letter to VA Secretary David Shulkin and appealing to lawmakers and other VA officials.
In 2013, the US military lifted its ban on women serving in combat. Shortly after, the Marine Corps began what it calls an “unprecedented research effort” to understand the impact of gender integration on its combat forces.
That took the form of a year-long experiment called the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, in which 400 Marines — 100 of them female — trained for combat together and then undertook a simulated deployment, with every aspect of their experience measured and scrutinized.
Just last month, the court of Appeals for Veterans Claims issued another major decision that is hugely beneficial to disabled veterans. This new decision allows veterans to more easily obtain higher ratings for injuries to the back, neck, and joints.
Most veterans who have applied for disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have been sent to something called a Compensation and Pension examination, or they are often called by the VA, "C&P exams." This is an examination orchestrated by the VA to assess the origin and extent of the veteran's disability. Veterans who have been to these examinations know that each C&P examination can be very different. Some examiners are very thorough and listen to the medical problems of the veteran, but other C&P examinations can be simply inadequate.
Air Force veteran Jennifer Kepner died from pancreatic cancer following exposure to burn pits during the Iraq War last week.
Kepner, a 39-year-old wife, and mother of two, lost her fight against pancreatic and was laid to rest on Sunday. She was exposed to toxins from burn pits during her tour at Balad AB. In those burn pits, the US Military burned anything from garbage to human remains using JP-8.
A soldier shares her observations of prosecuting rape cases in the Army both as a victim and an attorney.
Editor’s Note: The following article was published on the condition of anonymity. The author’s identity and background was vetted and verified by Task & Purpose.
Rape is hard. It’s a hard thing to endure and it’s a hard thing to prosecute. I say this from two perspectives: From my own experiences as a victim, and from my experience as a military prosecutor. I will be the first to say that the military has a lot to answer for when it comes to failing to protect its members from this heinous, unspeakable crime. At the same time, having experienced the difficulties of prosecuting sexual assault crimes in general, I think at times victims advocacy groups turn a blind eye to some of the systematic compromises we make for the good of our justice system as a whole, and that’s not necessarily the military’s fault
A U.S. federal court in Washington on Monday blocked President Donald Trump’s administration from enforcing his ban on transgender people serving in the American military.
A judge in the U.S. district court for D.C. ruled Monday that Trump’s directive changing the transgender policy back to what it was before June 2016 and banning new transgender recruits from enlisting cannot be enforced while the case is being reviewed in court.
Over the past year, I have contacted your office about outstanding issues with the Department of Veterans Affairs impacting Veteran access to healthcare. These critical issues included; several thousand abandoned calls to the Veteran Crisis Line, 800,000 Veterans in a pending backlog, nearly 300,000 deceased Veterans being denied access to VA healthcare, since 2014 over 100,000 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans being placed in an illegal pending means test status, and Veterans with critical illnesses being denied access to care.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal there has been renewed media attention being given to the numerous reports of systemic Hollywood pedophilia as alleged by Corey Feldman, Todd Bridges, Elijah Wood and many, many others.
Since 2013 one organization has aimed to fight back against pedophiles across the United States: the HERO — Human Exploitation Rescue Operative – program gives veterans injured, ill or wounded in the line of duty, training in computer forensics, to work with federal agents in fighting back against pedophiles who use the internet to sexually exploit children.
Researchers say they have found the “first direct biological evidence” of damage in Veterans with Gulf War illness to DNA within cellular structures that produce energy in the body.
The findings appeared in the journal PLOS One in September 2017.
A study that focused on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) included 21 Veterans with Gulf War illness (GWI) and seven controls.
When he found his wife in their house, she asked for his forgiveness. She’d taken 50 pills in an attempted suicide. Pure chance that he found her so soon after she’d swallowed those pills. They would have killed her if they’d had time to metabolize.
Both husband and wife are Navy veterans. He called 911 immediately. The responding medics rushed her to the ER at the nearest VA Hospital. Pumping her stomach saved her life. That, and his quick action. She was admitted to the VA Hospital.