Friday, October 23, 2009

Flags to fly at half-staff Sunday

Flags at all state government and federal facilities, and Wisconsin National Guard armories, air bases and other locations across the state, will fly at half-staff Sunday in honor of a former state resident who died of injuries sustained in a roadside explosion in Afghanistan.

Army Spc. Kevin J. Graham, 27, of Benton, Ky., died on Sept. 26 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, after the explosion struck his vehicle. Graham moved from Salem, in Kenosha County, in 2005 with his parents to Fairdealing, Ky. They had lived in Wisconsin since 1991, and his three older brothers still live in southeastern Wisconsin or northern Illinois.

Graham enlisted in 2007 and was later assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team based in Fort Lewis, Wash. Family members said he always wanted to join the army.

Other state agencies, and businesses and private residences with flag poles, are welcome to fly flags at half-staff during daylight hours Sunday.

The National Guard will render these honors in accordance with an executive order issued by Gov. Jim Doyle.

Mccormick's & Schmick's Honor Vets

To Veterans Who Have Served in War and Peace We Honor You

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Military Appreciation Monday

Free "Thank You" Dinner
Monday, Nov. 16, 2009,
5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Golden Corral's 9th annual Military Appreciation Monday dinner will be held on Monday, November 16, 2009, from 5 to 9 pm in all Golden Corral restaurants nationwide.

The free dinner meal is a special "thank you tribute" to any person who has ever served in the United States Military. If you are a veteran, retired, currently serving, in the National Guard or Reserves, you are invited to join us for Golden Corral's Military Appreciation Monday dinner.

Who is eligible for the free "thank you" dinner?
Any person who has served in the US Military (retirees, veterans, active duty, National Guard or Reserves)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

D.C.'s Vietnam Veterans Memorial under repair

WASHINGTON — Workers began repairing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall on Wednesday as a private memorial fund took over maintenance of 13 acres from the National Park Service.

Over the next two weeks, workers are restoring the flagpole's bronze finish and its decorative base with five military branch insignias. They will also restore the bronze finish for five stands that hold directories that help people find names on the V-shaped memorial wall, which draws millions of visitors each year.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which built the memorial, also has repaired an irrigation system and is reseeding and sodding the grass. Last month, the group announced plans to pay for maintenance at the site because of scarce funding from the federal government.

They plan to raise more than $1 million to care for the memorial and grounds, including $500,000 to buy replacement granite if sections of the wall need to be replaced.

"Everybody has the same goal: We want it to look good," said fund spokeswoman Lisa Gough. "We want it to shine."

The memorial's bronze fixtures – including the flagpole and a statue of three soldiers – will be restored for the first time since they were installed more than 25 years ago, said James Cummings, who was part of the original architecture team.

The fund is trying to raise $100,000 to restore the statue by next year. The bronze is worn down and has turned green on the soldiers' noses and arms, Cummings said. Weather caused some of the damage, along with the hands of visitors.

"No one expected the memorial itself would have such an impact with the culture," Cummings said. "There's a plan now to take care of it."

Bumper Sticker

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Applebee's - Veterans and Active Duty

Veterans and active duty EAT FREE on Veterans Day Wednesday November 11th at Applebee's.

Valid Veteran and Active Duty Identification to Obtain Free Entree:

  • U.S. Uniform Services Identification Card
  • U.S. Uniform Services Retired Identification Card
  • Current Leave and Earnings Statement (LES)
  • Veterans Organization Card (i.e., American Legion and VFW)
  • Photograph in uniform
  • Wearing uniform

Monday, October 19, 2009

Combat's positive effects examined

Army Sgt. Dustin Waggoner, left, and Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Frikken work on the rifle range in Forward Operating Base Airborne in Afghanistan. Frikken says his tours have changed him for the better.

By Sgt. Teddy Wade, U.S. Army

WARDAK, Afghanistan — Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Frikken says three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan have robbed him of precious time with his family, but have also changed him — in some ways for the better.

A sense of personal strength, appreciation for life and love of family have all been enhanced, says Frikken, 39, who directs artillery fire for 10th Mountain Division troops fighting here. "I will never be the same person I was before my combat experiences," he says.

What happens to soldiers like Frikken has led Army leaders to develop a resiliency program that urges GIs to look inward and discover how combat may have made them emotionally stronger.

Research appears to show that many people can emerge from traumatic experiences with greater self-confidence, a keener sense of compassion and appreciation for life, says Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, director of the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program. Cornum and other experts call this concept post-traumatic growth.

Although the military focuses attention on troops who develop mental health conditions in combat, Cornum says, the majority of war veterans do not suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other problems.

"We never ask if anybody had some positive outcomes. We only ask about this laundry list of illnesses," says Cornum, referring to a battery of health questions soldiers face when they leave the combat zone.

She often alludes to her experiences as a prisoner during the Persian Gulf War. Cornum was an Army captain and flight surgeon in 1991 aboard a Black Hawk helicopter shot down over Iraq. Five of the seven soldiers died. Cornum suffered two broken arms and a gunshot wound to the shoulder, was captured with two others and held for eight days.

Her goal is to include a self-assessment on traumatic growth with a health questionnaire given to soldiers three to six months after they return from combat. She would also like to include in preparations before and after GIs are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan short video segments of servicemembers describing how their personal lives changed for the better after surviving combat.

The new tools could be put into effect within a year, Cornum says.

Richard Tedeschi, an expert in post-traumatic growth at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, is collaborating on the project with the Army. Even though he calls the initiative "uncharted territory," Tedeschi says research indicates that soldiers have found value in their combat experiences. If informed about potential for post-traumatic growth beginning in basic training, he says, soldiers might not automatically assume "that the combat experience produces PTSD and you're kind of doomed."

During remarks at the American Enterprise Institute recently in Washington, Tedeschi said some servicemembers found the changes in their lives so profound after combat, they expressed gratitude for having gone through it — even if it cost them permanent physical damage.

"They'd felt they'd changed as people in ways they otherwise wouldn't have," Tedeschi says. "At the same time, as this trauma separates them from other people, it also allows them to maybe see themselves as more human than they ever were before, have a closer connection with what it means to be a human being ."

Frikken is married with three children, and goes out on missions from Forward Operating Base Airborne here. He says that nearly 33 cumulative months of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan "have made me realize to live every day as if it were my last. I take nothing for granted."

The experience forces survivors to "try to figure out 'Who am I now? ... What's my life supposed to be about?' " Tedeschi says. "We certainly would like to find ways of helping people move in this direction, because it's a way of mitigating the effects of this trauma."

Tedeschi acknowledges that his concepts are controversial.

Howard Tennen, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Connecticut, says that although post-traumatic growth may occur in some people, it is difficult to measure. He says available evidence does not yet support the idea that promoting a sense of growth will lead to positive outcomes.

Cornum says she finds the concept convincing.

"We never want something bad to happen," she says. "But if there's an opportunity to learn something from some adverse circumstance, we certainly want to take advantage of it."

Mission Support helps soldiers deal with war

John Scroggins, a retired colonel, is head of Mission Support Element.

Twenty years ago in December, John Scroggins made a combat parachute jump into Panama with the Rangers.

At 63, he has been out of uniform for seven years. But nowadays Scroggins is helping Fort Bragg revise how it sends soldiers to war, brings them back and gets them ready to go again.

Scroggins, a retired colonel with distinctive white hair and eyebrows, is director of the Mission Support Element and the senior civilian in the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg. His picture is hanging on more than one wall at Fort Bragg from his past assignments.

His office is on the command hall with the generals in the corps headquarters. When the corps staff meets, he's in on the huddle.

"I didn't realize how much I missed it until I came back here and started doing it again," he said. "I found out there really is a niche for a guy like me to come over here."

The Mission Support Element has a staff of 118 people, mostly Army civilian employees and contractors.

It's a new organization, designed to meet the needs of an Army fighting a long, seemingly unending war.

"The way we are today, it's asking too much of the Army to have those war-fighting colonels and commanders try to take care of all the other stuff that takes place on a daily basis and leave a piece of their team back here to take care of while they are gone," Scoggins said. "The MSE is going to fill that gap. We are going to be long term."

Under the new arrangement, the 18th Airborne Corps focuses on the fight and the Mission Support Element picks many duties the corps used to do. It's a triad with the Fort Bragg garrison handling the "city" aspects of the Army post - from roads to ballfields - with military training ranges thrown in.

The Army is constantly looking at what's next. When soldiers are overseas, plans are already being made for their next assignment, what schools they need to attend and getting the barracks ready back at Fort Bragg. When they get home, their equipment needs to be repaired, they need to take time off and reunite with families, get individual training and sometimes move on to their next assignment. When a deployment is coming up, they have to be ready to hand over their barracks, schedule time off and do unit-level training.

Fort Bragg's Mission Support Element, which has counterparts around the Army, went into operation last year when Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin and his 18th Airborne Corps headquarters were running military operations through Iraq on a daily basis.

The idea of the "MSE" is to free up the war fighters to take care of business in the combat zone.

"All the other stuff that takes place on a daily basis, we've got it," Scroggins said.

Like Scroggins, who was a brigade commander in the 82nd Airborne Division and 18th Airborne Corps chief of staff, many of the MSE staff can speak with great authority about the Army.

A couple of years ago, Scroggins' deputy, Scott Harris, was fighting insurgents in Iraq as commander of an infantry battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division. He knows firsthand about issuing and reissuing equipment.

"The battalion commander, the brigade commander, the staff officers, who are coming back after 15 months of combat, they don't want to fool with that," Harris said. "The MSE does it for them."

The corps - apart from special operations units - has about 35,000 soldiers on Fort Bragg, and about half of those are deployed. There is constantly somebody coming or going.

"When they come back and get into the reset mode, they don't have to worry about doing all the things that may have slipped to the wayside when they were gone," Scroggins said. "We've got it. They can take a knee. It will be under control."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pros vs G.I. Joes

Wisconsin National Guard Sgt. Sara Roeske, left, of the 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment in Madison belts out the vocals as Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby and running back Ryan Grant play “Guitar Hero” on Friday during the Pros vs. G.I. Joes program in the Lambeau Field Atrium. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette

Green Bay Packers players take on Wisconsin National Guard soldiers in 'Guitar Hero,' 'Call of Duty 4' at Lambeau Field


Doris Lange hadn’t seen her son since March.

Army Spc. Brett Lange is stationed in Camp Bucca, Iraq, but his mother got a chance to see him electronically battle some Green Bay Packers players on Friday.

“Brett’s the main guy,” said the mom from Milton. “Brett’s the biggest attraction.”

Nearly 100 people watched as families like the Langes cheered on their loved ones from the Wisconsin National Guard as they played “Guitar Hero” and “Call of Duty 4” against Packers players at an event called “Pros vs. G.I. Joes” on Friday at the Lambeau Field Atrium.

WPS Health Insurance sponsored the event by presenting a $4,000 check to the nonprofit program that gives troops stationed overseas the chance to play online video games against their local NFL team.

“It’s a terrific opportunity for us to give back to these soldiers and families who sacrifice so much for our country,” said Brian Brugger, WPS senior vice president.

Packers kicker Mason Crosby, running back Ryan Grant, defensive lineman B.J. Raji and defensive end Jarius Wynn signed autographs and took photos in between playing games on an Xbox 360. Players said it was a time to relax and support the troops.

“They’re getting time off from a war zone. It really kind of puts stuff into perspective,” Crosby said.

Army Sgt. Robert Spors of Janesville, Pfc. Trent Lien of Blair, Pfc. Bryan Schneider of Milwaukee and Lange, of Milton, played at the USO Center at Camp Virginia in Kuwait. The soldiers from A Company of the 132nd Brigade Support Battalion talked with family via videoconference before and after the games.

Lange, 23, said he misses the entire NFL season and the event gave him a chance to stay in touch with the players.

“It was definitely nice getting to see our family members. It was a real treat for us,” he said.

Angela Lange, 25, of Chicago, said her little brother is a big gamer and they played a lot as kids.

“He would push the buttons and I would read the strategy guide,” she said.

About 30 members of the Wisconsin National Guard cheered on the competitors.

Cadet Jonathan Fleming, 21, of Jefferson, performed lip-syncing to “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts during “Guitar Hero,” one of his favorite games.

“I wanted to come out there and sing for the Packers. I’m willing to put myself on the line,” he said.

Photos from Friday's "Pros vs. G.I. Joes" event at Lambeau Field.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Commander's letter tackles troops' morale in Afghanistan

By David Goldman, AP
Members of Apache Company, 2nd Battalion 87th Infantry Regiment, part of the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Combat Brigade, cover an injured U.S. soldier as a helicopter lands to evacuate the wounded after their armored vehicle was damaged by a roadside bomb in the Tangi Valley of Afghanistan's Wardak Province.

WARDAK PROVINCE, Afghanistan — A U.S. Army commander in Afghanistan has responded to concerns about low morale among his troops in a personal letter that assures them they are contributing to the "overall success of the mission" here.

As the Obama administration debates the military strategy in Afghanistan, the letter offers a rare glimpse about how that debate is playing out among troops on the battlefield in one of the country's most violent provinces.

Col. David Haight, of the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat team, sent the letter to the 3,500 men and women after two of them were killed in combat and his chaplains reported that many were disillusioned about the war.

"From the individual's foxhole, it is probably often difficult to see the bigger picture," wrote Haight, who provided a copy of the letter to USA TODAY.

Haight wrote that "some (soldiers) may ask why" efforts to clear valleys of insurgents or keep roads open are "so important (or) really worth it. ... I am here to solemnly testify that it is all important."

In an interview after sending out the letter, Haight said that some of the public debate may have reached soldiers in the ranks.

"I can tell a soldier to do anything, and he may or may not in his mind question why," Haight said. "But if you explain the why very, very clearly, he will not only accomplish the mission, but he will do the mission to a much higher standard."

"Morale is something that varies by person and circumstance," said Army Lt. Col. Mark Wright, a Pentagon spokesman. "But based on conversations with commanders in the field, morale across the force is generally pretty good."

The letter itself wasn't unusual, said Lt. Col. Paul Swiergosz, spokesman for 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, N.Y. Haight writes a letter every month in the unit's newsletter, Swiergosz said. He said the unit's soldiers remain focused on their mission.

Haight said he wrote the letter after a request by Capt. Jeffery Masengale, a chaplain who told British newspaper The Times that many soldiers worried their mission was pointless and the Afghans reluctant to help them.

Masengale declined to comment.

Staff Sgt. Stephen Barnes, a squad leader fighting in the Tangi Valley, said "there's a lot of soldiers that are going to be glad as hell that (the chaplain) has spoken up. Because out of fear of reprisal, they don't speak. I will say it. Morale has gotten low. I will say it on the mountaintops."

An Oct. 2 incident in which an Afghan police officer shot and killed two of the brigade's soldiers — Sgt. Aaron Smith and Pfc. Brandon Owens — set off much of the unit's frustration, Haight said. The Afghan police officer, who had worked with Americans for five years, escaped after the attack.

Contributing: Jim Michaels in McLean, Va.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009


New single by Rebecca Henricks is now available. SANDBOX (U.S. slang for the Middle East) is a tribute to Americans serving overseas. Proceeds are being donated to the Veterans Airlift Command.

Hey everybody!

I’m very excited to release this new single. Last Friday night, I sang and showed the video of SANDBOX in Colorado Springs. The response was overwhelming… a standing ovation for over a minute. This song truly has an impact on folks! Personally, I'm impacted by the sacrifice and devotion of the men and women serving our great country.

If you are serving, or have served in the military, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!



SPREAD THE WORD.... Grassroots style!

Please forward to all of your friends, family, colleagues, customers, veterans and soldiers!

Thanks for supporting our troops!

For more information, tour schedule and to purchase SANDBOX:

VA may ease rules for Vietnam vets

The Veterans Affairs Department said Tuesday that it plans to make it easier for Vietnam War veterans exposed to the Agent Orange herbicide who suffer from certain medical conditions to qualify for VA benefits.

The conditions are B cell leukemias, Parkinson's disease and ischemic heart disease. The veterans with those conditions under the VA's proposal would have presumptive status, which would make it easier to obtain benefits. The rule changes were first reported in The New York Times.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki made the decision based on findings in a study by the Institute of Medicine, the VA said.

About 200,000 veterans might seek benefits under the proposed change, the VA said. More than 2 million servicemembers were potentially exposed to Agent Orange, which was used to defoliate trees, between January 1965 and April 1970.

Sunday, October 11, 2009 is an amazing organization.

Veterans Fight to Keep 75-yr. old Mojave Desert Memorial cross (

McChrystal Slams DoD Bureaucracy

Agence France-Presse

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan bitterly complained in an interview Sunday about the Pentagon bureaucracy that he said was hampering his efforts to fight insurgents.

In a profile on CBS television's "60 minutes," Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal said he faced pressure to move quickly from Defense Secretary Robert Gates while the Pentagon had moved slowly to get officers assigned to his staff.

"The secretary talks in terms of 12 to 18 months to show a significant change and then we eat up two or three months just on sort of getting the tools out of the tool box," McChrystal said, according to a transcript of the show to air later Sunday.

"That really hurts," said McChrystal, shown in a video conference with the Pentagon.

The four-star army general, who was appointed to lead U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan in June after the previous commander was sacked, demanded the Defense Department had to move with more urgency.

"The average organization when someone asks when you want something, they pull out a calendar," he said.

"But in a good organization, they look at their watch and we really got to get that way."

McChrystal said he was slightly surprised by the strength of the insurgency when he took over his post.

"I think that in some areas that the breadth of violence, the geographic spread of violence -- places to the north and to the west -- are a little more than I would have gathered," he said.

He also repeated his warning that if the NATO-led mission was perceived as an occupier that posed a threat to civilians, the war would be lost.

"If the people view us as occupiers and the enemy, we can't be successful and our casualties will go up dramatically," he said.

McChrystal said 265 civilians had been killed by U.S. or allied forces in the past 12 months.

In a quarterly report released Saturday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said 1,500 civilians had died between January and August, with August the deadliest month so far this year.

Military officials have credited McChrystal with reducing civilian casualties in recent months by ordering a change in tactics, including scaling back the use of air strikes and artillery fire, as well as requiring soldiers to exercise more caution when driving on Afghan roads.

Time For Disney to Do The Right Thing

A federal judge in Orlando has struck a blow for the rights of disabled veterans in rejecting a settlement that would have denied wounded war heroes their preferred method of mobility, the geo-stabilized upright transporter known as a Segway.

See News Release from “DRAFT” here

The ruling is one step in the right direction, but doesn’t end the battle to give our veterans their wheels of choice.

The Walt Disney Company stubbornly refuses to get with the times and allow visitors to use the state-of-the-art devices, which allow disabled people to get around standing up, instead of sitting a wheelchair.

Curiously, Disney allows Segways for the use of its own employees and for tours that it charges for, but claims allowing private citizens to use them is a safety hazard.

It strikes me as an outrage that our wounded warriors have to suffer this indignity, and for the life of me I can’t understand what the folks at Disney are thinking.

Am I wrong about this?

Disney is portraying this as a legal victory in part because the judge ruled, “there is simply no evidence that… use of a Segway is arguably essential to accessing Disney’s Park.” [Disney Wins Dismissal of Suit Over Segways, Settlement Voided - Bloomberg] Disney is simply glossing over the fact the settlement would have left its Segway ban in place.

But in vacating the settlement, the judge kept the key issue alive: It’s not whether the disabled vets COULD use the park without their Segways, it’s whether they SHOULD be forced to use an inferior substitute like a wheelchair, or Disney’s low-tech four-wheel stand-up scooter.

You can read Judge Gregory Presnell’s full ruling here, but this is the part I think gets to the central issue.

“This case is not about necessary accommodation. The real question, it seems, is the extent to which the ADA can (or should) promote equal treatment and human dignity by requiring acceptance of new technologies. As Major Gade and others testified, the Segway is quickly changing the way disabled Americans are perceived and treated in our society. The importance of this interest simply cannot be overlooked. While on the facts of this case equal treatment and human dignity may not be protected… those interests may still be protected by other provisions of the ADA or state law. As the Supreme Court has recognized, the purpose of the ADA is to eliminate the “physical and social structures” that have impeded the disabled. In this regard, the ADA concerned itself with much more than just eliminating physical barriers to access, but with advancing the “stature” of persons with disabilities, protecting against the “stigma” that is often associated with being disabled and promoting respect for “the dignity of individuals with disabilities.”
Gregory A Presnell
U.S. District Judge
Orlando Florida

Friday, October 9, 2009

Troops sent off well

By Emily Boswell

A slip of the tongue enthralled the troops, families and residents in the crowd during Saturday’s send-off ceremony for the National Guard soldiers of Alpha Troop 1-112 Cavalry.

When Representative Diana Maldonado uttered “God bless the United States of Texas,” she quickly corrected herself, only to be greeted with the day’s biggest outburst — thunderous applause, a standing crowd and yells of “Hoo-Ah” from the troopers she was commending.

What she thought was a mistake turned out to be an exclamation of love and respect for Texas and the troopers who will soon be deploying to Iraq to fight for it.

The ceremony, which was well-attended with the troop, their families and dozens of Taylor residents, filled the Taylor High School auditorium and spilled into the foyer afterward.

With dignitaries Senator Steve Ogden, Congressman John Carter and Maldonado along with the troops’ commanding officers there to give their praise and prayers, the event was an emotional one that included tears, laughter and honor.

“This ceremony is not about us,” Captain Kevin Urbanek said, addressing the crowd. “It’s a way for us to show our thanks and appreciation to you, without whose support we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”

Sen. Ogden presented the troopers with a flag that flew over the Texas Capitol in honor of their work and sacrifice.

“Fly this and remember what it stands for,” Ogden said.

The theme throughout the event was the sacrifice and involvement of the troopers families.

“To the families ... you are the unsung heroes of this conflict and quite frankly, of this country,” Col. Ferrel told those in attendance. “You must remain strong so the troopers can focus on their mission.”

But the immenent goodbyes didn’t dampen the mood for most.

“Being a cav trooper is like being a green beret, but better, because we do it all, but with style.” Ferrel said, donning the trooper’s Stetson and boots.

That Stetson, a signifying mark of the troop that calls Taylor its home, was awarded to Taylor second grader Garrett Orts, who recently completed a class project naming the National Guard Armory as an important building in town.

“The soldiers protect us and fight for our freedom,” Commissioner Ron Morrison read of why Orts chose the building. “Anyone want to take a guess as to what his future career will be?”

Orts saluted his idols on stage and accepted a certificate naming him an honorary member of Alpha Troop 1-112 Cavalry.

Ogden, Morrison and Maldonado all encouraged family, residents and friends to stay in contact with their elected leaders to make sure Texas soldiers were getting everything they needed to fight for their country and “protect freedom and give freedom to those that don’t have it.”

“If it is something I know about, I will move Heaven and Earth to get it done,” Ogden said.

“The families that give us soldiers give us the very best,” Morrison said. “And we send our very best into harms way. Joy time is when you get back. When all of you get back. So go out there, do your job, and do it well.”

Community mourns fallen soldier

By Daily News Staff

The Rhinelander community is mourning the loss of a local soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice last week in Afghanistan.

Flags are flying at half mast in memory of Sgt. Ryan Adams, a hometown hero. Wisconsin will be flying the flag at half mast on Saturday as Sgt. Adams is laid to rest.

According to the Department of Defense and the Wisconsin National Guard, Adams died Oct. 2 in Logar province, Afghanistan of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle using rocket-propelled grenade fire. He was a member of the 951st Engineer Company (Sapper).

Brigadier General Donald P. Dunbar, the adjutant general of the Wisconsin National Guard, has confirmed that seven other Wisconsin National Guard soldier were injured in the attack that took Adams’ life and are receiving medical care.

Sgt. Adams, 26, was one of approximately 100 soldiers from the Rhinelander and Tomahawk-based 951st deployed in November to Camp Shelby for several months before reporting to Afghanistan where they are conducting route clearance operations for the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

This was the second tour of duty for this unit, and Sgt. Adams, which also deployed to Iraq in May 2003 to April 2004 when it was known as Company C, 724th Engineer Battalion.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pass the VA Budget Immediately please make a call to your Senators.


The Battle for COP Keating (and how to donate to help the troops of 361 Cav)

This is about the 361 Cav and how they lost everything from there outpost and think no body gives a $hit. The American Legion are going to try to raise enough money to send over Ipods to all the soldiers there.

Please pass this story on to everyone you know and we will say we do give a $hit about them.


I See America

Sandy Riggers put her heart an soul into this presentation. She has a beautiful voice!

I See America is a military tribute. I wrote the song about ten years ago with the intention of focusing solely on our troops and veterans. In the last few years I have been piecing together clips from Dept. of Defense videos, etc., to try and include every major U.S. conflict from the Revolutionary War to our current War on Terror. It has been a tedious process, but definitely a labor of love. I hope and pray this tribute will reach a multitude of our precious troops and veterans. God bless them all, they deserve so much more than we could ever give them."

Historic River Baptism

By Spc. Johnjames Miller

3rd BCT PAO, 82nd Abn. Div., MND-B

BAGHDAD - From left to right; Sgt. 1st Class Neil Fletcher, Sgt. Daniel Winstead, Staff Sgt. John Snyder, Chaplain (Capt.) Mike Smith and 1st Lt. Robert Bailey pose together after being baptized in the Tigris River, Oct. 6 along the outskirts of southeastern Baghdad. The Paratroopers chose the location because the Tigris River is believed to be a spiritual location according to the Bible. The Paratroopers are assigned to the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Johnjames Miller, 3rd BCT PAO, 82nd Abn. Div., MND-B)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Sandbox" by Rebecca Henricks

New single by Rebecca Henricks... honoring the US Military serving in the Middle East. Proceeds are being donated to the Veteran's Airlift Command.

To purhase "Sandbox," go to

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ministries pave a spiritual path to help veterans with PTSD

By Jeff Swensen, for USA TODAY
Tim Pollock, 30, of Boardman, Ohio, shows dog tag tattoos of fallen comrades after a Point Man meeting.

Hopelessness haunted Tim Pollock for years after an Iraqi insurgent blew off half his skull during a reconnaissance operation in 2004. Back home in Columbiana, Ohio, the retired Army infantryman drank hard, bought a gun and considered suicide.

But today Pollock, 30, has a renewed sense of purpose despite his seizures and other war-related disabilities. He visits soldiers in hospitals. He coaches veterans who struggle as he does with agitation, anxiety and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And he's studying for ministry.

"I'll always have post-traumatic stress, but I'm learning through God how to control that," says Pollock, who leads a veteran support group through Point Man International Ministries, an independent non-profit. "I'm learning how to change my feelings of anger into feelings of love and help people with their problems."

As soldiers return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, congregations are discovering how spirituality can help veterans afflicted with postwar stress. But many pastors remain unsure how to help when veterans contend with chronic nightmares, outbursts and panic attacks.

An army of helpers

Several ministries are trying.

•Since 2007, Campus Crusade for Christ's Military Ministry has helped about 100 local churches launch or expand programs addressing spiritual needs that accompany PTSD.

•Point Man support groups, led by veterans and supported by local congregations, have grown from 219 in 2007 to 250 today. Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans now make up 20% of attendees, up from just 1% in 2007, says Point Man president Dana Morgan.

•Other groups have launched grassroots efforts, such as the Coming Home Collaborative, a 3-year-old network of Minneapolis-area Lutheran congregations.

Propelling outreach efforts is a mounting need. Nearly 20% of service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan report symptoms of PTSD or major depression, yet fewer than half seek treatment, a Rand Corp. study found last year. Women with the disorder often go undiagnosed, in part because they're wrongly presumed to be less susceptible in non-combat roles, said a report in July from the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

PTSD poses challenges even for well-intentioned congregations because it is often hidden. A veteran with the disorder may appear fine in worship, but at home he may obsess about security, struggle to sleep, panic at loud noises or become easily enraged. Such symptoms manifest in certain trauma survivors, including some who have experienced the horrors of war up close, says Matthew Friedman of the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Department of Veteran Affairs.

For some congregations, PTSD ministries are largely about raising awareness. At Calvary United Methodist Church in Colorado Springs, where most members have a military connection, leaders have been trained to spot symptoms and refer those affected, especially family members, to counselors. But Calvary, like others, is still finding its way in this "new avenue that we're not very familiar with," says senior pastor Khan McClellan.

Confronting PTSD "is still something of a struggle for faith communities," who might fear mental illness or assume the military should be handling it, McClellan says. "As much as we're exposed to it in Colorado Springs, we have a long way to go in terms of meeting this need."

Other congregations are tackling what they see as the disorder's spiritual dimension. Skyway Church in Goodyear, Ariz., launched a support group last year for veterans and one for family members. John Blehm, a Vietnam veteran and PTSD patient who leads the support group, says military clinicians "do not address the spiritual wounds of our troops."

"Many will feel guilty for the inhumane things they have done in order to survive in war," Blehm says. "Once they understand they are not alone and can be forgiven, then healing begins."

Cautious steps forward

Friedman says clergy can help facilitate connections among veterans or address spiritual dimensions, such as guilt or reconciliation. "People really don't like to go to a psychiatric clinic unless they have to," Friedman says.

James Knudsen, a Vietnam veteran and PTSD patient in Marion, Iowa, says local efforts to get churches to start support groups for veterans have largely "fallen on deaf ears."

As churches test these new waters, they may just need to jump in and take one step at a time — and veterans may need to do the same.

"We emphasize that everybody else can forgive you, and now it's your turn to forgive yourself because God already has,"

More colleges develop classes on how to treat war veterans

Universities are creating classes to train students in how to treat combat veterans and their families suffering from war-related mental health problems.

As psychologically wounded troops return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the initiatives range from workshops to semester-long graduate courses, such as one on military culture next year at the University of Washington-Tacoma. The University of Southern California is starting a master's program in which students will interact with holographic images of troops in distress.

"I think across the nation, a lot of schools of social work have concluded that we need to do something," says Jose Coll, director of USC's military social work program, which offers a degree that emphasizes treating veterans.

In addition to treatment methods, the classes teach military culture, the combat experience and what military families endure. That's a way of life that's mysterious to many new behavioral health students, educators say.

"This is sort of cultural awareness education," says James Martin, a retired Army colonel and Bryn Mawr College professor who has worked on several programs.

"Anyone we treat, it's important to understand their culture," says Jeffrey Pollard, director of counseling and psychological services at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

One in three Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, a mild traumatic brain injury or some combination of all three, according to a RAND Corp. study released last year. The level of combat has declined in Iraq, but it's reaching record levels in Afghanistan, where 65,000 U.S. servicemembers are in combat. Nearly 2 million have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The new programs are driven in part by students who want to treat servicemembers, veterans and their families, says David Riggs, executive director of the Center for Deployment Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

"They very much feel a desire to help," Riggs says. "Some of them have personal connections, or are parents of people who are in the military. Or somebody from their home town has been deployed, and they've seen them come back and have difficulties."

The center developed a one-week course for civilian mental health workers last year to teach them about combat deployments from the soldier's perspective, the treatment of PTSD and stresses on military families.

More than 750 mental health providers enrolled across the country, Riggs says. Among them was Pollard, who is passing along what he learned to counselors at George Mason who offer therapy to combat veterans attending under the G.I. Bill.

A graduate course called Social Work Practice with Military Personnel and Veterans will be introduced at the University of Washington-Tacoma next year. A four-course graduate certification program in military culture and counseling is being offered this year at the University of South Florida in Tampa, says Herbert Exum, chairman of the Department of Psychological and Social Foundations.

The University of North Carolina is exploring introducing new curriculum on military culture for its social work graduate students and an internship program at nearby Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, says Bill Ayers, an assistant professor in social work.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Senate leader wants answers on military's gay ban


WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to hear from the Obama administration on how to overturn the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays serving openly in the military.

The Democratic-led Congress is considering repealing the 1993 law but isn't expected to act on the issue until early next year.

In the meantime, the Nevada Democrat is asking President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to share their views and recommendations on the controversial policy.

In Sept. 24 letters to Obama and Gates, Reid also asked for a review of the cases of two U.S. officers who were discharged from the military because of their sexuality.

"At a time when we are fighting two wars, I do not believe we can afford to discharge any qualified individual who is willing to serve our country," Reid wrote in identical letters to Obama and Gates that were obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

Obama signaled during last year's election campaign that he supported repealing the law. But to the chagrin of his gay-rights supporters, he has made no move to do so since taking office in January. The White House has said it will not stop the military from dismissing gays and lesbians who acknowledge their sexuality.

Last year, 634 members of the military were discharged for being gay, or .045 percent of the active-duty U.S. force, according to an Aug. 14 congressional report.

The largest number of gays who were ousted under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy came in 2001, when 1,227 were discharged, or .089 of the force.

The House is considering legislation to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" and allow people who have been discharged under the policy to rejoin the military. The law is being pushed chiefly by Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., a former captain in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division who served in Bosnia and Iraq.

Murphy has said he does not expect congressional hearings on the policy until next year.