Battling the Storm Within

Monday, June 10, 2019

Marine colonel calls suicide ‘shameful,' cites ‘godless age’ and calls on Marines to ‘read some scripture’

Since the start of Gen. Robert Neller’s tenure as commandant in 2015, nearly 224 Marines have ended their own lives. That’s more Marines than an entire rifle company, he noted in a recent two-page letter on mental wellness.
In 2018, 354 active and reserve Marines attempted suicide, and 77 Marines died, numbers that are greater, Neller wrote “than any previous year recorded."

15 Rare Photos of Black Rosie the Riveters

During World War II, 600,000 African-American women entered the wartime workforce. Previously, black women's work in the United States was largely limited to domestic service and agricultural work, and wartime industries meant new and better-paying opportunities -- if they made it through the hiring process, that is. White women were the targets of the U.S. government's propaganda efforts, as embodied in the lasting and lauded image of Rosie the Riveter. Though largely ignored in America's popular history of World War II, black women's important contributions in World War II factories, which weren't always so welcoming, are stunningly captured in these comparably rare snapshots of black Rosie the Riveters.


The MISSION Act launches June 6: Here’s how to use your new urgent care benefit


The MISSION Act launches June 6 and means greater access and flexibility for veterans in choosing their healthcare providers. One of those changes covers urgent care.
Rather than go to a VA facility’s emergency room or another alternative, the MISSION Act allows veterans to go to civilian urgent care clinics.

Military Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is a pervasive problem in the United States, including in the Armed Forces. Public beliefs and attitudes about sexual assault lead to complacency and acceptance of a “rape culture” in the United States where rape is normalized, excused, tolerated, and even condoned. This acceptance creates an environment that makes it nearly impossible for sexual assault victims, in both the military and civilian systems, to obtain justice and discourages them from reporting and seeking help.

Why We Must Put an End to the Stigma of Mental IllnessEveryone is broken.
It’s a fact of life that’s not only clear from the pages of the Bible but also from the practical reality of what we see around us and in our own lives. Our bodies are broken. Our emotions are broken. Guess what? Our minds are broken, too.

How to Help someone with PTSD

A mother and daughter
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is estimated to affect around 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience. It often goes undiagnosed because it doesn’t always develop immediately after the event, sometimes not becoming apparent until years afterwards. It goes without saying that it’s extremely difficult for sufferers, but it’s also difficult for their loved ones who may not always know how best to respond to them.

'The invisible folks': Spouses behind vets with PTSD

Amber Mosel,34, hugs her husband, retired Marine Sgt. Jason Mosel.

The suicide rates among veterans are astounding: 22 die by suicide daily. And behind the scenes are the spouses and family members who often get little support in their own battle to care for their loved ones.

Falling enrollment in VA’s caregiver program raises concerns

As Veterans Affairs officials prepare for a massive expansion of caregiver stipends later this year, lawmakers are expressing concern that the department still can’t administer the current program properly, leaving many participating families confused and frustrated.
A new analysis from the office of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., found that more than 30 percent of individuals enrolled in VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers have dropped out of the system over the last two years, a figure she calls “disturbing.”

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Most veterans are obese, but can't collect disability for it, VA says


When you are in the service you are more than likely at your healthiest, between physical fitness training and maintaining standards within body composition regulations,  the probability of becoming overweight or obese is not great. However, when service members get out the odds are not in their favor. According to Veterans Affairs, 78 percent of veterans are considered to be overweight or obese. 

Shanahan calls for reforms as military sexual assaults rise by 38%; highest for young women

WASHINGTON – Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan called for sweeping changes in the way the military handles sexual assaults and harassment following a reported 38% increase in assaults from 2016 to 2018. That spike in crime within the ranks comes after years of focused effort and resources to eradicate it.

Free Dental Care for Veterans Available June 8

Aspen Dental dentists and teams will once again be providing free dental care to veterans nationwide on June 8.
For the sixth year, nearly 500 Aspen Dental offices nationwide will open their doors to serve veterans in their local communities as part of their community giving initiative, the Healthy Mouth Movement.

The VA is stuck between state, federal laws on medical marijuana

ATLANTA - There is a new push for veterans to get access to medical marijuana for treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
But recently, the Trump administration has come out against three different bills that would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs clinics to prescribe medical marijuana.
Many believe medical marijuana is much safer than opioids that VA doctors currently prescribe. They say cannabis oil treats pain, as well as seizures and depression.

VA opposes new legislation aimed at improving access to medical marijuana for veterans

Department of Veterans Affairs officials told lawmakers Tuesday that the agency is opposed to three new legislative efforts designed to expand access to medical marijuana for veterans.
“It’s overwhelmingly clear amongst the American people and amongst the veterans across the country that this is an issue that they are keenly interested in and want to have access to,” said Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs subpanel on health.

Defense Department to make sexual harassment a crime

Defense Department officials will make sexual harassment a criminal offense amid new reports of increasing bad behavior among service members.
In a statement Thursday morning, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan called the move a necessary step to combat the “scourge” of sexual assault and abuse in the ranks.
A new report from the department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office shows the number of reported cases of sexual assault in the ranks rose from nearly 4,800 in fiscal 2016 to more than 6,050 in fiscal 2018.

"The Normalization of Sexual Assault"

Sexual assault in the military has become increasingly more common and accepted, creating a problem in providing accountability and justice for survivors. This problem stems largely from the Feres Doctrine, a policy that blocks survivors from suing their perpetrators or the government in civil court for their injuries. 

After the revelation of how prominent sexual assault has beenin the military, the Department of Defense started to focus on the importance of the prevention of the assaults described by Section 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. [1] However, the level of military-on-military sexual assaults has continued to grow, while the number of prosecutions has declined. [2] The Feres Doctrine, by insulating perpetrators from the consequences of their actions, is adding to a culture that is normalizing sexual assault in the U.S. military. 

Women veterans don't get equal treatment at the VA, so Congress is launching a task force

During Andrea Goldstein's time as a Naval officer, she was frequently the only woman in the room "where life and death decisions were made."
But the teammates who were supposed to guard her life in turn "sexually harassed and belittled" her because of her gender.
Since leaving the military, she says it's not gotten any better. 

Goldstein now faces barriers to care at the Department of Veterans Affairs because male veterans and VA healthcare workers "questioned my right to VA healthcare."

Gulf War exposures may have added health risks to active duty military during Operations Desert Shield,

Gulf War Exposures

Depleted Uranium (DU)

Depleted Uranium is what remains from the manufacturing process of enriched uranium used in nuclear reactors or weapons. It has the same chemical toxicity as natural uranium, retains radioactivity, and a half-life of 4.5 billion years.
DU was used on a large scale during the Gulf War in tank armor and some bullets or rounds — mostly 30mm caliber ordnance — to penetrate enemy armored vehicles. Riding in a vehicle with DU weapons or shielding is not linked to exposure of significant amounts of DU or external radiation.  However, DU can be a health hazard if it enters the human body.  In a struck vehicle, soldiers could have been exposed through wounds if fragments of DU scatter and become embedded in muscle and soft tissue. Soldiers could also be exposed to DU by inhaling or swallowing small airborne DU particles in a struck vehicle or in close proximity to burning vehicles or fires with DU munitions.

Women veterans say they need to have a seat at the table

1 in 4 women veterans have experienced being cat-called, stared at, or been on the receiving end of sexually derogatory comments when visiting a VA facility.

This number came from a VA study published in the Journal of Women’s Health Issues and was the topic of concern among House lawmakers at a hearing to discuss the cultural barriers women veterans face when trying to access care at VA.

Military sexual assaults reported in Pentagon survey jump to 20,000

Sexual assaults jumped across all four military services to 20,500 last year — a rise of almost 38% from 2018 — survey results the Pentagon released Thursday show.
Details: The figures of the anonymous survey found more than 85% of victims knew their assailant and alcohol was a factor in 62% of the assaults. The statistics are close to the same number of sexual assaults reported in 2014, when 20,300 were recorded. Pentagon officials told ABC News the results would lead to changes in its sexual assault prevention efforts.

For Veterans, Outdoor Therapy Could Become Law

On May 1, representative Chris Smith of New Jersey introduced the Outdoor Recreation Therapy for Veterans Act. The bill, HR 2435, directs the secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a task force to study the implementation of a mental-health program on public lands for veterans. This group, which would be composed of five cabinet secretaries (from the VA, Interior, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Defense), plus the chief of the Army Corps of Engineers, would be charged with finding ways to better use public land in treatment and therapy for vets—and coming up with the policy recommendations to make it all happen.  

Task force to highlight ‘forgotten’ and 'invisible’ women veterans

The United States has nearly 2 million women veterans today, but but Rep. Julia Brownley thinks many Americans never really see them.
“Women veterans are too often overlooked, forgotten or feel invisible,” said Brownley, D-Calif. “We are here today to change that. Women have served in uniform since this country’s earliest days … but for far too long their issues have been unnoticed or ignored.”
On Thursday, the Brownley formally launched the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s new task force on women veterans, with the goal of “advancing equity in access to resources, benefits and healthcare” for the group.