Monday, April 28, 2008

Join us on April 30th for an IAVA/ACWV - Charlie Wilson's War House Party. We're going to watch the film, and then join in on a national conference call with IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff, Nathaniel Fick, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and is the best-selling author of "One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer", and Charlie Wilson himself.


American Cold War Veterans Meeting Best Western Rosslyn/Iwo Jima 1501 Arlington Blvd. Arlington, VA 22209-3001


Hi everyone well I am off to D. C. Tomorrow for event I will be back friday with lots of great stuff to blog about.

April 30 - MAY 1, 2008WASHINGTON, DC

April 30 -- Meeting of AMERICAN COLD WAR VETERANS– Best Western Rosslyn/Iwo Jima
1501 Arlington Blvd. Arlington, VA 2209-3001
Phone 703-524-5000 or 800-424-1501
Rate 135.99 Group Code 1121
(Group to assemble in lobby at 12:30pm, April 30th)

Visit the Hotel website for directions here.



May 1 - Join us for a Congressional Continental Breakfast 8:30-9:30 - Room 902 of the Hart Senate Office Building

FOLLOWED BY visits to your senators and representatives
11:00 – Travel to Arlington National Cemetery -- “Remembering Forgotten Heroes of the Cold War” Ceremony sponsored by American Cold War Veterans. Group will assemble at the Visitor's Center, located at the entrance to the cemetary at 11:30am. Ceremony begins at 12 noon at section 34, Arlington National Cemetery, followed by visits to Korean War, Vietnam War, USS Thresher, and Laos memorials

United States Senate

Washington, DC

Press Advisory For: Contact: Jessica Smith (Webb), 202-228-5185

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 Kimberly Hunter (Webb), 202-228-5258

**Press Event: Tuesday, April 29 at 12pm, U.S. Capitol, West Front**




Call for Immediate Legislative Action on

The “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act” (S.22/ H.R. 5740)

Tuesday, April 29— More than one hundred veterans of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan from across the country will converge on Capitol Hill Tuesday to join members of Congress in advocating a “21st Century GI Bill” for our newest generation of veterans.

The group will call for immediate legislative action on the “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act” (S.22/ H.R. 5740), introduced by Sens. Jim Webb (D-VA), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and John Warner (R-VA) in the Senate and by Reps. Harry Mitchell (D-AZ), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) and Peter King (R-NY) in the House. The legislation boasts strong bi-partisan and bi-cameral support with 57 cosponsors in the Senate, 234 cosponsors in the House and the endorsements of the nation’s leading veterans’ organizations.

S.22/ H.R. 5740 is designed to offer the brave men and women who have served honorably since September 11, 2001 a level of educational benefits on par with those provided to veterans of the World War II era. The legislation will give our returning troops the tools to succeed after military service, strengthen our economy in the face of increasing global competition, and make military service more attractive as we work to rebuild our military.

Who: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), lead Senate cosponsor

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), lead Senate cosponsor

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), lead Senate cosponsor

Sen. John Warner (R-VA), lead Senate cosponsor

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman

Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-AZ), lead House cosponsor

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), lead House cosponsor

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL), lead House cosponsor

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), lead House cosponsor

Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), House Veterans Affairs’ Committee Chairman (Tentative)

Matthew Boulay, Director of Campaign for a New GI Bill

Dr. Clifford Stanley, retired USMC Major General & CEO, Scholarship America

Pete McCloskey, former U.S. Rep. and Korean War veteran

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

Derek Blumke, president, Student Veterans of America

Bob Balaban, Master of Ceremonies, actor & director

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)

American Legion

Vietnam Veterans of America

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)

Disabled American Veterans (DAV)


National Association for Uniformed Services

National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

Jewish War Veterans of the USA

U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University

When: Tuesday, April 29, 2008, 12:00PM

Where: U.S. Capitol, West Front

(In front of the fountain, facing the Washington Monument)

Rain Location: Rayburn Room, H-207 U.S. Capitol Building

For more information about the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, please visit: http://webb. pdf/factsheetgis 222008.pdf
Former 528th USAAG and 70th Ord Co Admin Area (click here, where you can edit info and add comments) 528th USAAG and 70th Ord Co Admin Area/

Saturday, April 26, 2008

NYS Health Initiative for Returning Veterans and Their Families

On April 22, 2008, at the Rochester Veterans Outreach Center (VOC), New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) President and CEO James R. Knickman announced a $2 million veterans health initiative. The NYSHealth Initiative for Returning Veterans and Their Families will highlight the fact that the health, mental health, and substance use issues experienced by veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are public health issues. The initiative will address veterans' reintegration needs and strengthening collaboration between the public and private sectors.

Dr. Knickman was joined at the Rochester event by VOC President and CEO Thomas Cray, Western Region Deputy Director of New York State Division of Veterans Affairs Edward Simmons, MG John Batiste, New York State Senator Joseph Robach, and Veteran Member Associate of Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America Andrew Roberts.

NYSHealth is initially funding the Rochester VOC and the Jewish Board of Family & Children's Services in the Bronx to assist returning veterans with a variety of reintegration and care coordination needs. For more information on these projects and the initiative, visit the 'Features' section of our homepage at

Below is a sampling of media coverage of the Rochester event and the NYSHealth Initiative for Returning Veterans and Their Families:

'Returning Soldiers' Needs to be Studied,' Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

'Veterans Outreach Center to get $372K to Address Veterans' Needs,' Democrat & Chronicle

'Grant will Help Vets Deal with PTSD,' WXXI

'Vets Center Gets Money for Study,' WHAM 13

Video available here:

'Veteran Services Receive Money,' RNews

'Veterans Health,' Crain's Health Pulse

Available at:

VFW Director in Afghanistan

Just wanted to let you know that Jerry Newberry, VFW's Director of Communications, is headed back to Afghanistan. This is not Jerry's first trip, and as a Vietnam vet himself, he likes to get his information first hand. Jerry has his own blog. If you get a chance, visit Jerry's Blog and keep up with him in eastern Khowst province, Afghanistan.

Troy at VFW National HQ


Battle lines in the final frontier

April 26, 2008

An arms race in space could prove catastrophic, and has the potential to throw our societies back into the 1950s, writes Tom Allard.

The Space Age began with the launch of Sputnik 1 into orbit and an outbreak of terror in the US.

It was the height of the Cold War, October 1957, a time of Eugene McCarthy's communist witch-hunts, "duck and cover" nuclear drills and Hollywood's obsession with fantastical sci-fi flicks.

Then came the shock of the Soviet Union's satellite launch.

"Words do not easily convey the American reaction," the NASA historian Roger Launius wrote. "The only appropriate characterisation that begins to capture the mood on 5 October involves the use of the word hysteria. A collective mental turmoil and soul-searching."

Tens of millions of Americans rushed out of their homes to gaze skywards as the 83-kilogram sphere and its ungainly four antennae passed overhead. Children tuned into ham radios, listening in for its beeping signal.

"Soon they will be dropping bombs on us from space like kids dropping rocks onto cars from freeway overpasses!" decried Lyndon Johnson, then a Democratic senator and rival of the president, Dwight Eisenhower.

Eisenhower was under intense pressure. He had a panicked populace, a lynch-mob media and military chiefs urging him to rush into a space weapons program to counter the Soviet threat.

But Eisenhower, a former five-star general and Allied supreme commander during World War II, quickly saw the risks of a space arms race, as well as an opportunity.

Within days, his administration had congratulated the Soviet Union on its mighty scientific feat. He said Sputnik's orbit had affirmed an important principle: the freedom of international space for all nations.

This powerful idea of space as a "province of all mankind" had earlier been rejected by the Soviet Union. Now it had no choice but to accept it. Eisenhower stressed, and the Soviet premier, Nikita Khrushchev, concurred, that space should not be used for warlike activities.

So began a period of the development of space that has brought extraordinary economic benefits and a large measure of security to Earth. Globalisation would not have been possible without satellites. The financial system, the internet, modern air travel, weather and scientific research depend on space assets.

But as the space age enters its second half-century, there are growing concerns the world is on the verge of a hugely expensive and potentially catastrophic extraterrestrial arms race.

"It will bankrupt nations if they don't blow themselves up in the meantime," Brett Biddington, a former RAAF officer and author of a paper on space engagement, warns.

War in space is not an appealing prospect.

There are 800 operational satellites orbiting Earth, but strewn among them are 10,000 pieces of what is classed as space junk. The destruction of even 10 large satellites would cause enough debris orbiting the world at 36,000kmh to make space unusable for several decades, Theresa Hitchens, director of the US Centre for Defence Information, says.

"A space-based war may not wipe out humanity from the face of the Earth like all-out nuclear war, but it would be enough to send us back to the 1950s," she says

As it stands, there are no weapons in space. But in the past 18 months China and the US have successfully tested anti-satellite weapons that have hit targets hundreds of kilometres in space from the ground.

The US and, many suspect, China and Russia have active programs to build a suite of space weapons, from powerful lasers to nano-satellites that can bump a larger satellite off its orbit.

More than a dozen nations can reach space. About the same number have ballistic missile programs, the technology that underpins ground-based anti-satellite weapons.

There is no treaty banning conventional weapons in space. The US, in particular, has adopted an increasingly belligerent posture over its control of space.

"We are at a threshold," Hitchens says. "A lot of factors have come together and, frankly, it's frightening."

Among those factors is a fundamental change in the way military forces use space.

During the Cold War, Hitchens says, space assets were used for strategic military purposes. Reconnaissance satellites were used to spy on the other side, enforce treaty commitments and as early warning systems against missile attacks.

With only two major players involved, each side had a good idea of what the other was up to. The threats were well regulated and the development of space continued at a predictable and relatively harmonious pace.

But space is now used by military forces in an intrinsically different way: space assets are an essential part of everyday, tactical military operations.

It is called network-centric warfare, and there are no more enthusiastic proponents than the US and Australia. Simply put, all command and control communications, surveillance, targeting systems and military platforms are connected through what is called a satellite-based global information grid.

It gives everyone - from a commander in headquarters to a special forces soldier on remote patrol - access to a picture of the battle space.

Tank commanders who once pored over maps are now guided to their destination by the global positioning system. Bombing missions that would once take days to plan can be undertaken almost instantaneously as photographs and targeting information is emailed to an aircraft in flight.

The reliance on satellites is so pervasive in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that it has overwhelmed the bandwidth of US military satellites. According to Biddington, the US and its allies rely on commercial satellite operators for about 90 per cent of their bandwidth in the Middle East.

Satellites are crucial to modern military operations, making them extremely valuable targets. Moreover, they are vulnerable.

"Satellites are fragile," Ron Huisken, from the Australian National University, says. "They move fast, but you know exactly where they will be at any moment."

The US war machine would be thrown into chaos if several of its key satellites were blown up or permanently disabled.

Donald Rumsfeld, in a paper he wrote before he become US defence secretary, warned of a "space Pearl Harbour".

Those fears were stoked last year when China fired a ballistic missile 900 kilometres from the Earth's surface, downing one of its own weather satellites, creating a massive cloud of debris along the way.

At a space conference soon after, the chief of staff of the US Air Force, General Michael Moseley, said: "It's not lost on this audience what a strategically dislocating event that was, on par with the October 1957 Sputnik launch." Such a claim may have had a touch of hyberbole, but there is no doubt the US regards space, as Moseley put it, as "contested domain".

The US responded to China's test by shooting down one of its own satellites in February using its Aegis combat system. Unlike China it warned the rest of the world beforehand.

China's successful test of its anti-satellite missile - it is believed to have tried and failed three times before - came three months after the US released its national space policy, asserting its right to "space control" and to conduct "counter-space" operations to thwart any challenge from adversaries.

The policy, which effectively took the Bush doctrine of pre-emption beyond the stratosphere, also rejected "new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit US access to, or use of, space". According to Hitchens, the policy went even further than Ronald Reagan did when he was president. He gave impetus to the idea of weapons in space with his "Star Wars" missile defence shield.

"Reagan said he was still open to banning anti-satellite weapons. Bush has said he won't accept any treaty to ban weapons in space. It's very aggressive rhetoric, very unilateral rhetoric," Hitchens says.

Many arms control experts regard the rhetoric as destabilising, particularly when considered in tandem with the Bush Administration's controversial decision to drop out of the anti-ballistic missile treaty.

The treaty, among other things, prevented the US and Russia from putting missile defence systems in space.

Huisken says the withdrawal from the treaty was "as big a mistake as Iraq" and "absolutely certainly" has spurred Russia, and especially China, to expand military spending at a rapid pace.

"The message sent to Russia and China was that henceforth your confidence in your nuclear deterrent capability is based solely on a political promise from Washington."

Hitchens says it is vital to understand that satellites, with their predictable trajectories, cannot readily be defended by weapons, which means the role of ground-based and orbiting anti-satellite weapons is intrinsically offensive in nature.

This brings a new but inherently unstable dynamic of deterrence - you hit mine and I'll hit yours - to the table.

"These principles worked in the Cold War because there were only two countries, countries which, over the years, came to know a lot about each other," Hitchens says. "In space, there's a greater uncertainty and a greater chance for a misunderstanding or an accident escalating into a catastrophic outcome. Also, when you have multiple players, the deterrence theory becomes very difficult to maintain."

Much of the research and development undertaken into space weapons is shrouded in secrecy. It also involves dual-use technologies, giving those investing in it plausible deniability.

Hitchens estimates that the US is investing about $25 billion a year - when its military's "black budget" is included - on technologies that could be used in space, and that does not take into account its investments in reconnaissance and communications satellites.

China has flagged its intent with its anti-satellite tests, while Russia has the technology to quickly mobilise a space weapons program.

India and France, even Japan, have also shown a keen interest, Hitchens says.

"In many ways, India is the country that scares me the most. The Indian Air Force, for a decade, has been trying to kick-start a space weapons program," she says. The argument is gaining traction in New Delhi, not least because of China's activities and because India does not want to be left behind on space weapons as it was on nuclear weapons.

India did not have nuclear weapons when the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed in the late 1960s. It opted out so it could pursue them, but has been treated as something of a pariah since. Critically, its non-participation in the treaty has hampered India's ability to source uranium for civilian purposes.

"If there's to be a treaty [on space weapons], they want to be much further ahead," Hitchens says. "It's a potent political argument and it frightens me because if India moves forward and develops anti-satellite weapons, then the Pakistanis will want to do something and so will the Iranians.

"The dominoes will fall and, once you reach a critical mass, it will be very hard to stop, and very dangerous up there."

There is only one formal treaty governing space: 1967's Outer Space Treaty, which forbids putting nuclear weapons in orbit or on "celestial bodies" such as the moon.

China and Russia have loudly urged the US to begin talks on banning other weapons in space and even working on limiting anti-satellite weapons.

But the US and Israel have been the only two countries strongly resisting negotiations beginning in the United Nations. They say a pact would be unenforceable, noting that even a supposedly benign object in space could be used as an offensive weapon - for example a satellite that is manoeuvred to ram another.

Still, a new administration in the US next year could signal a change in attitude. Democratic members of Congress have been an important constraint on funding for space weapons programs.

Hitchens says many senior US military personnel and political leaders are acutely aware of the risks of a space arms race, notably the incredible expense and the problem of space debris.

But there remains a powerful clique of "space warriors" in the US and plenty of commercial interests - many tied up in the missile defence shield program - keen to earn billions of dollars from an expansion of weapons into space.

Perhaps, in the end, the US and the world needs a new political leader with the foresight of Eisenhower.

It was Eisenhower, after all, who famously warned in his farewell speech that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex".

Friday, April 25, 2008

Separation Because of Personality Disorder

From: "How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits" by Joshua Kors

"Jon Town ... was standing in the doorway of his battalion's headquarters when a 107-millimeter rocket struck two feet above his head....Eventually the rocket shrapnel was removed from Town's neck and his ears stopped leaking blood. But his hearing never really recovered, and in many ways, neither has his life. A soldier honored twelve times during his seven years in uniform, Town has spent the last three struggling with deafness, memory failure and depression. By September 2006 he and the Army agreed he was no longer combat-ready.

But instead of sending Town to a medical board and discharging him because of his injuries, doctors at Fort Carson, Colorado, did something strange: They claimed Town's wounds were actually caused by a "personality disorder." Town was then booted from the Army and told that under a personality disorder discharge, he would never receive disability or medical benefits....

"In the Army's separations manual it's called Regulation 635-200, Chapter 5-13: "Separation Because of Personality Disorder." It's an alluring choice for a cash-strapped military because enacting it is quick and cheap. The Department of Veterans Affairs doesn't have to provide medical care to soldiers dismissed with personality disorder. That's because under Chapter 5-13, personality disorder is a pre-existing condition. The VA is only required to treat wounds sustained during service.

Soldiers discharged under 5-13 can't collect disability pay either. To receive those benefits, a soldier must be evaluated by a medical board, which must confirm that he is wounded and that his wounds stem from combat. The process takes several months, in contrast with a 5-13 discharge, which can be wrapped up in a few days.

If a soldier dismissed under 5-13 hasn't served out his contract, he has to give back a slice of his re-enlistment bonus as well. That amount is often larger than the soldier's final paycheck. As a result, on the day of their discharge, many injured vets learn that they owe the Army several thousand dollars.

One military official says doctors at his base are doing more than withholding this information from wounded soldiers; they're actually telling them the opposite: that if they go along with a 5-13, they'll get to keep their bonus and receive disability and medical benefits. The official, who demanded anonymity, handles discharge papers at a prominent Army facility. He says the soldiers he works with know they don't have a personality disorder. "But the doctors are telling them, this will get you out quicker, and the VA will take care of you. To stay out of Iraq, a soldier will take that in a heartbeat. What they don't realize is, those things are lies. The soldiers, they don't read the fine print," he says. "They don't know to ask for a med board. They're taking the word of the doctors. Then they sit down with me and find out what a 5-13 really means--they're shocked."

In the last six years the Army has diagnosed and discharged more than 5,600 soldiers because of personality disorder, according to the Defense Department. And the numbers keep rising: 805 cases in 2001, 980 cases in 2003, 1,086 from January to November 2006...."

Deception over suicide rates among U.S. vets? April 24: Did the Veterans Affairs top mental health official treat the high number of veterans committing suicide as a PR problem instead of a serious health issue? Paul Rieckhoff, executive director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, joins “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”

WASHINGTON - Two Democratic senators have called for the chief mental health official of the Veterans Affairs Department to resign, saying he tried to cover up the rising number of veteran suicides.

Sens. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii and Patty Murray of Washington state said Tuesday that Dr. Ira Katz, the VA's mental health director, withheld crucial information on the true suicide risk among veterans.

"Dr. Katz's irresponsible actions have been a disservice to our veterans, and it is time for him to go," said Murray, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. "The No. 1 priority of the VA should be caring for our veterans, not covering up the truth."

Demands for better tracking of suicides
Another e-mail said an average of 18 war veterans kill themselves each day — and five of them are under VA care when they commit suicide.

"It is completely outrageous that the federal agency charged with helping veterans would instead cover up the hard truth — that more and more Americans coming home after bravely fighting for their country are suffering from mental illnesses and in the most tragic circumstances, committing suicide," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "Anyone at the VA who is involved in this cover-up should be removed immediately."

Harkin, Murray and Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., introduced legislation Tuesday calling on the VA to track how many veterans commit suicide each year. Currently, VA facilities record the number of suicides and attempted suicides in VA facilities — but do not record how many veterans overall take their own lives. The agency, however, is reluctant to disclose specific numbers, veterans advocates complain.

The new bill would require the VA to report to Congress within 180 days the number of veterans who have died by suicide since Jan. 1, 1997, and continue reports annually. Harkin's office said statistics provided earlier this year by the VA showed that 790 veterans under VA care attempted suicide in 2007. That figure is contradicted by the e-mail revealed this week.

Two veterans groups last year filed the class-action lawsuit against a sprawling VA system that handled a record 838,000 claims last year. A government lawyer on Monday urged a judge to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the agency runs a "world class" medical care system.

Read whole Story

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Today April 25th, is ANZAC Day, commemorating the ill-fated landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Ari Burnu on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915.

8,709 Australians and 2,701 New Zealanders lost their lives there.

Somewhat overlooked are the other nations' dead. Over 21,000 British and Irish troops died; nearly 10,000 French troops and over 1,300 from India - not to mention the 86,000 Turkish dead.

By the end of the campaign, over 130,000 troops from all sides were dead, and Gallipoli remained in Turkish hands.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Cold War Proclamations

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Vets Sue the VA: 'More than Half of Wounded Troops Slipping Through the Cracks'

By Aaron Glantz, AlterNet. Posted April 22, 2008.

"If you're suicidal you can't wait a month ... People placed on waiting lists have killed themselves."

A national class action lawsuit brought by Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans went to trial on April 21. The suit, known as Veterans for Common Sense v. Peake was brought by two veterans organizations who argue the Department of Veterans Affairs is systematically denying hundreds of thousands of wounded veterans needed medical treatment, while forcing them to wait months or even years for the disability benefits they've earned.

"We're dealing with people who are almost totally disabled; people who have lost arms, lost legs in these wars, people who have come home with post-traumatic stress disorder or physical brain injury," explained Gordan Erspamer, an attorney with the law firm Morrison and Forrester who is handling the case pro bono. "We can't have these people waiting for months and years for the treatment they need."

According to a study released last week by the Rand Corp., an estimated 300,000 veterans among the nearly 1.7 million who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are battling depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Another 320,000 veterans suffer from traumatic brain injury, physical brain damage that is often caused by roadside bombs.

However, the VA reports only about 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have received health care from the VA system -- about 120,000 for mental injuries. That means more than half the American service personnel wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have slipped through the cracks.

"The VA needs aggressive, pro-veteran leaders, for more, additional funding for staff, office space and for screening and treatment equipment," said Paul Sullivan of Veterans for Common Sense. "The VA needs more streamlined policies so that veterans don't need to fill out a 20-page form in order to get care."

Sullivan said his organization decided to file suit when it became clear the agency wouldn't take action on its own. Before helping to found Veterans for Common Sense, Sullivan monitored disability claims for the VA. In 2006, he resigned in protest.

"In 2005, while working at VA, I briefed senior VA political leaders that VA was in a crisis of a surge of disability claims of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans," he said. "I recommended in writing that the VA hire more claims processors to make sure the veterans get their benefits faster instead of facing six month delays or even longer."

"The VA didn't do anything to help the veterans. What the VA actually did was several things to lock the doors and block veterans from getting mental health assistance from VA," Sullivan added.

The groups filed their claim in the Federal District Court in San Francisco in July 2007. In their lawsuit, the veterans groups asked the federal courts to force the VA to clear the backlog of disability claims and make sure returning veterans receive immediate medical and psychological help. They also want the judge to force the VA to screen all vets returning from combat to identify those at greatest risk for PTSD and suicide.

Since then, the Bush administration has tried multiple times to get the case dismissed. In court papers last year, the Justice Department argued that Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth did not have standing to sue because they were not individual veterans but associations. The Bush administration also argued that the entire notion of a veterans' class action lawsuit was illegal, declaring that all veterans are required to petition individually.

The judge, an 86-year-old Nixon appointee and World War II veteran named Samuel Conti, rejected each of those claims.

"It is within the court's power to insist that veterans be granted a level of due process that is commensurate with the adjudication procedures with which they are confronted," Conti ruled in January.

Representatives of the Department of Veterans Affairs refused to be interviewed for this story and also declined to provide a statement.

Across the country, veterans are watching the case with great interest.

Five years ago, U.S. Army Specialist Corey Gibson was at the "tip of the spear" of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. A year later, the Indiana native finds himself battling an enemy that's harder to engage than the Iraqi Army: the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

"I've been thrown around from several psychologists, and can't see the same person at the same place for very long," the 27-year-old told me. "Most of the veterans that I know don't even go to seek care from the VA, because dealing with that system has been a major added stressor. Me, I try to keep my mind busy. My mind is going 90 miles a minute, anyway, so I might as well keep it focused on something that's going to help me.

In 2004, the VA diagnosed Gibson with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and rated him 100 percent disabled, meaning his mental state is too damaged for him to hold down a job.

His roommate, 22-year-old Andrew Whitt knows Gibson suffers from flashbacks and other demons from his wartime experience.

"When I come home, I have to yell, 'Hey, it's me!' so he doesn't pull a gun and go ballistic," Whitt said. "When he hears a loud noise outside he peeks through the blinds. He doesn't sit with his back toward doors in classrooms and restaurants. Every now and then it comes out with road rage. He's afraid of going out in public, fearful of what might happen."

Last week, Gibson called Veterans for Common Sense and offered to testify at trial if necessary. Lawyer Gordon Erspamer says his office has been deluged by similar calls.

"There are waiting lists to see a doctor that usually go for at least a month," he said. "Well, if you're suicidal you can't wait a month. You can't wait three months. People placed on waiting lists have killed themselves. It's a documented fact."

A recent CBS News investigation revealed 1,758 VA patients killed themselves in 2005. All told, the network estimated that more than 120 veterans commit suicide every week in the United States.

"There are more suicides every week than there are battlefield deaths," Erspamer noted. "We have got to deal with this problem, and if it costs more money, we've got to divert more money so we take care of these people."

The trial is expected to last a week.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

GI Film Festival Announces Festival Line-up!



GI Film Festival Announces Festival Line-up!

The GI Film Festival is back and bigger than ever! We’ve got more films, more stars, more media partners, more panels, and more parties this year! Here’s a quick summary of what we have planned.

  • Film screenings presented by award-winning Hollywood actors and directors. Scheduled presenters include: Gary Sinise Robert Duvall, James Franco, Ron Maxwell, and Lou Reda to name a few.

  • 25 military film premiers featuring the work of promising new filmmakers.

  • A congressional reception honoring members of Congress who served in the military.

  • The presentation of the “Corporate Patriot Award,” to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) for the company’s philanthropic work on behalf of the American Armed Forces.

  • “WWE Action Day” at Bolling Air Force Base featuring a WWE autograph session with Mr. Kennedy and a special presentation by Buck Rogers television actor Gil Gerard.

  • Panel discussions, including The 100 Greatest War Films of All-Time, War Stories, The Portrayal of GIs in Film and the Media, and Faith in the Foxhole.

  • VIP after parties featuring celebrities, top military brass, and filmmakers.

  • A three-day, onsite exhibit where visitors can learn about veteran service organizations.

  • Special appearances by: Dale Dye, James McEachin, Karri Turner, Leeann Tweeden, General Richard Myers, General George Casey, General Richard Cody, The Honorable Dan Glickman, and many more.

Not sold yet? Check out our films and trailers and you will be. We’ve got a fantastic line-up. And with tickets starting at only $5 you can’t lose!

(Note: If you are visiting the festival from outside the Washington , DC area, please make your hotel reservations now! Graduation season and Police Week are taking place during the festival, and hotels are becoming a rare commodity!)

3 Ways To Help Make The GI Film Festival 2008 A HUGE Success

The GI Film Festival is the first and only film festival dedicated to our men and women in uniform. If you want to make sure this festival stays on the cultural landscape, here are three things you can do to help:

Buy Your Ticket. Click here to see the festival line-up, pick your favorite flicks and click to buy your ticket. It’s simple. Ticket prices range from $5 all the way up to our deluxe VIP pass, which includes access to all of our celebrity receptions, for $300.

2. Send a Donation: The GI Film Festival is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and we depend on the generosity of sponsors and donors to make this festival possible. You can click here to make a secure online donation. Or please send a check to: GI Film Festival, 2776 South Arlington Mill Drive , 810, Arlington , VA 22206 . Your generosity is so much appreciated!

Spread the Word: Forward this email blast to at least five friends you feel would be interested in the GI Film Festival.

“At such a crucial time in our history, it is vital to portray our military as they really are; brave, selfless, hard working men and women who pay our price for freedom. I support the GI Film Festival because patriotism is still important celebrated there. Our military deserves respect and honor and this festival strives to supply us with films that do just that.” – Former JAG star Karri Turner

Leadership Institute Announces Documentary Workshop May 16

Learn how to craft, produce, and distribute professional documentaries at the Leadership Institute’s (LI) Documentary Workshop, to be held May 16, 2008 in Arlington, Virginia . Industry experts from around the country come to lecture at this one-day workshop, held at LI’s Arlington , VA headquarters to teach you:

· How to budget and fund your documentary

· Copyright issues and media law

· Storytelling and message crafting

· Technical aspects of good production

· Promotion, publicity, and distribution

For more information, visit or email Jane King at


No. 466 Session of 2007

OCTOBER 22, 2007



Urging the United States Congress to authorize the awarding of
Cold War Medals to recognize foreign service personnel who
served admirably abroad during the Cold War.

WHEREAS, The United States Armed Forces confronted and
engaged the forces of worldwide Communism continuously from the
end of World War II on September 2, 1945, until the dissolution
of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991; and
WHEREAS, The United States, throughout this prolonged period,
depended on its citizen volunteers and draftees to perform
national military service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine
Corps and Coast Guard to defend the nation and its allies from
Communist aggression; and
WHEREAS, The collapse of the Soviet Union constituted the
greatest military success for the United States Armed Forces
since the end of World War II; and

WHEREAS, Americans who honorably served in the armed forces
during the Cold War should now be recognized with a service
medal; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill No. 1097 and Senate Bill No. 1763, as
well as the 2008 fiscal year's defense appropriations bill are
viable legislative vehicles to authorize and fund the medal;
therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives urge the members
of the Congress of the United States to authorize the awarding
of Cold War Medals; and be it further
RESOLVED, That a Cold War Medal be authorized to honorably
recognize all military personnel who served on active duty
during the period September 2, 1945, through December 26, 1991,
and thereby recognize their military service during the Cold
War; and be it further
RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to
each member of Congress from Pennsylvania and to all members of
the Armed Services Committee of the United States Senate and the
Armed Services Committee of the United States House of

Legislative Hearing on H.R. ___, the "Veterans Disability Benefits Claims Modernization Act of 2008"

From testimony April10th 2008

Opening Statements

Witness Testimonies

  • Panel 14
  • The Honorable William P Greene, Jr., Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

  • Panel 2
  • Kerry Baker, Associate National Legislative Director, Disabled American Veterans
  • Ronald B. Abrams, Joint Executive Director, National Veterans Legal Services Program
  • Steve Smithson, Deputy Director, Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission, American Legion
  • Eric A. Hilleman, Deputy Director, National Legislative Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
  • Carl Blake, National Legislative Director, Paralyzed Veterans of America

  • Panel 3
  • Bradley G. Mayes, Director, Compensation and Pension Service, Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Accompanied By:
  • Richard J. Hipolit, Assistant General Counsel, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • And
  • Steven L. Keller, Senior Deputy Vice Chairman, Board of Veterans' Appeals, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

  • Panel 4
  • Submissions for the Record

  • Raymond C. Kelley, National Legislative Director, American Veterans (AMVETS)
  • Rose Elizabeth Lee, Chair, Government Relations Committee, Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.
  • Richard Paul Cohen, Executive Director, National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, Inc.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Follow up U. Maine Flag Desecration

See the UTube video here:

A disgrace - flag on the floor & walking on flag.
From everything that I can find, it appears that this event took place 16-April or thereabouts (very recently) - it isn't 'old news.'

And, if you notice, the only folks trying to protect the flag are a local American Legion member and a student. (The older woman at beginning of video who is protecting the right of the student to disgrace the flag, is the President of U of Maine at Farmington - Dr. Theodora J. Kalikow).

We Legionnaires should write the Commander, Dept. of Maine, and ask him to present kudos and recognition to the lone Legionnaire who tried to protect the flag. The Legionnaire in the video was both very polite and firm - represented the Legion very well, indeed, in a sticky situation that could have gotten out of hand but did not.



PO BOX 900
WATERVILLE, ME 04903-0900
PHONE: 207-873-3229
FAX: 207-872-0501

If you want to put in your 2 cents to folks at U of Maine (think you should), here's some contacts for you to go to:

Pres., U of Maine at Farmington
Dr. Theodora J. Kalikow (the older lady in the video stopping the Legionnaire from protecting the flag)

However, if you write her (snail mail), and send copies of your letters to the following members of U of Maine's Trustees, we might get some action.

3 Trustees U of Maine

Norman L. Fournier (Norman is a Viet Nam Vet)
2002 Aroostook Road
Wallagrass, ME 04781

Charles L. Johnson, III
Kennebec Tool & Die, Inc.
150 Church Hill Road
Augusta, ME 04330

William D. Johnson
76 Simpson Road
Saco, ME 04072

Sunday, April 20, 2008

U.S., South Korea restore Cold War alliance a Russian Op Ed

A Russian perspective on South Korea's new president Lee Myung-bak's trip to Camp David.

Opinion & analysis

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti foreign news commentator Ivan Zakharchenko) - U.S. President George Bush will meet with South Korea's new president, Lee Myung-bak, in Camp David on Saturday, to discuss options for restoring the traditionally close-knit military ties between the two countries, which have weakened somewhat in the past decade.

Lee Myung-bak's predecessor, Roh Moo-hyun, while actively supporting the United States on the global political stage, emphasized a rapprochement with North Korea in regional politics. Lee Myung-bak has reversed that policy, much to the annoyance of Pyongyang.

According to official information published by the South Korean media, the two leaders will also discuss the ratification of the free trade agreement, the situation on the Korean Peninsula, including nuclear issues, global climate change and energy problems, international issues and building a security system in Northeast Asia.

The latter issue, emphasized by many South Korean media, is of special interest.

The South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted Lee Myung-bak as saying in a recent speech at the U.S. Korean Society, that the two countries should build a wider alliance firmly anchored in shared values, mutual trust, and joint efforts to promote peace around the globe.

The most burning of security problems in Northeast Asia is the standoff between the U.S. and North Korea, which produced and tested nuclear weapons in 2006 - most probably in a bid to avoid the fate of Iraq. Disarming North Korea has been the focus of protracted and punctuated six party talks in Beijing involving both Koreas, Russia, the U.S., China and Japan, ever since 2003.

At last year's round, the Six set up a Working Group, headed by Russia, on a Northeast Asia Peace and Security Mechanism. It was expected to grow into a strong political mechanism for upholding regional peace and security.

Bush and Lee Myung-bak may recall that idea, but will most probably focus on a different one.

The South Korean weekly Sisa In said recently that the U.S. and South Korea were expected to outline a "roadmap", to use a popular term, for developing their bilateral relations, with the Pan Asia Pacific Security Union (PAPSU), a planned U.S.-led alliance, as its cornerstone. The first step toward building this union on Russia's far-eastern border is to include South Korea and Japan in PAPSU, and the current South Korea-USA Summit Talk is the beginning of this first step.

Although the South Korean government said it would take into consideration the interests of other neighbors, Russia and China included, the new union will be directed against the military cooperation within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the weekly said.

In fact they may even be thinking of restoring the Washington-Tokyo-Seoul military alliance, an important military bloc during the Cold War. As if to underline the importance South Korea attaches to relations with Tokyo, Lee Myung-bak's first foreign trip as president will also include a visit to Japan, where he will fly from the U.S.

According to Sisa In's information, the U.S. is planning a three party summit meeting in May or June, which will probably seal the establishment of its triple alliance with South Korea and Japan.

Before 2003, the three nations used the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group (TCOG) to work out a common position on North Korea at the level of foreign ministers. Now that interaction has been elevated to the level of heads-of-state, the weekly remarked.

The second step will be to include Australia, New Zealand, and some South East Asian countries in PAPSU. The plan to establish PAPSU clearly shows the U.S. government's intention to build a multilateral security alliance in the Asia-Pacific region. As for Russia, only the possibility of its participation in PAPSU as an observer, along with Thailand, has been discussed so far.

The formation of a triple alliance will automatically mean Japan's and South Korea's joining the U.S.-led missile defense project in Northeast Asia, although South Koran military chiefs have previously been skeptical about the idea.

The next stage of the new roadmap will involve supplying next-generation U.S. weapons and military hardware to South Korea, primarily F-35 fighters to replace the old F-16s, and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles. Secondly, the U.S. will provide assistance in extending the range of South Korean missiles.

South Korea is currently implementing a program to develop missiles that could reach Pyongyang or the North Korean nuclear center at Yongbyong (within 186 miles), but that range could be extended to 280 miles, if Seoul acceded to the U.S. missile-defense system in the region, Sisa In wrote.

Lee Myung-bak and George Bush will probably touch upon the reduction of the U.S. forces in South Korea to 25,000 servicemen in 2009, but the U.S. still wants to keep 28,500 troops there, according to the weekly.

North Korea is demanding a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from the south of the Korean Peninsula and signing a peace treaty to replace the truce that has been in place since the end the 1950-1953 war. The U.S. still refuses to sign a peace agreement with North Korea, and some observers suggest it simply does not want to lose the pretext for its military presence in South Korea, and consequently its influence in the region.

Although Lee Myung-bak told CNN earlier this week that he did not believe that the inter-Korean relationship has "deteriorated" since he assumed office, Pyongyang has certainly become more wary since he abandoned the previous administration's "sunshine" policy toward North Korea. This could certainly jeopardize the six-party efforts to persuade North Korea to lay down its nuclear weapons, and thwart George Bush's attempt to achieve progress at the talks before he leaves office.

The U.S. has recently taken several steps that observers see as concessions to North Korea. Its insistence that Pyongyang must fully disclose its nuclear weapons and fissile materials and the extent of its program has certainly grown milder. However, the tensions now developing between Seoul and Pyongyang could prevent the latter from truly abandoning its nuclear program.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

New Website running. is a History of 528th United States Army Artillery Group. The unit deactivated in 1992 after Gulf War. This is 1.0 version I hope to grow it and I encourage any Veterans with stories pictures send them in I will add them.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Turkish Army calls off offensive in northern Iraq, for now

A convoy of Turkish military trucks carrying elite troops return from northern Iraq in Çukurca in Hakkari province at the Turkey-Iraq border on Friday.

Troops returned to their bases in Turkey yesterday after an incursion into northern Iraq against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers'' Party (PKK) there, the military announced, ending a week-long offensive earlier than expected and stating that similar operations would be carried out in the future if necessary.

The military and the government have repeatedly said the troops would return as soon as the planned objectives have been accomplished. But even the most optimistic estimates saw the operation as lasting at least two weeks. In a statement posted on its Web site, the military set out the objectives as "rendering terrorists in the region ineffective and damaging the physical infrastructure used by the organization." The PKK''s heartland, the Zap region near the Turkish-Iraqi border, has been targeted in the offensive, it also said, contrary to earlier media reports that the PKK bases in the Kandil Mountains, located about 100 kilometers away from the border, would be rooted out.

Opposition parties have called for a prolonged stay in northern Iraq, saying the troops should not return without establishing a buffer zone or destroying all PKK targets in northern Iraq. But the government and military have said repeatedly that the operation would be limited in time and scope. The statement also said: "Of course, it is not possible to render the terrorist organization completely ineffective with one operation in a certain region. But it has been proven that the north of Iraq is not a safe place for the organization."

The military said some 300 terrorists were in the area the operation targeted before the incursion began. Throughout the operation, which began late on Feb. 21 and lasted until yesterday morning, some 240 terrorists were killed and the rest fled the area, according to the military. Shelters, communication facilities and logistics materials were also destroyed. "Thus, it has been considered that the objectives of the operation set out at the beginning have been accomplished," it said. "Our forces have returned to their bases in Turkey as of the morning of Feb. 29 after searching and combing the area."

The ground offensive, the biggest anti-PKK operation in a decade, had the consent of the United States, which provided intelligence to assist the counter-PKK attack, but Washington had stepped up its pressure for a quick conclusion of the operation over the past few days, fearing a prolonged stay could destabilize northern Iraq and harm US ties with Iraqi Kurds.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on a visit to Ankara on Thursday, repeated once again that the operation must be short term, and US President George W. Bush said hours later that "the Turks need to move, move quickly, achieve their objective and get out."
Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Büyükanit said in response that the "short term is a relative notion" that could mean "one day or one year." Government officials also told Gates that the Turkish Army had no intention of staying once its objectives are accomplished.

The military, which has conducted aerial strikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq since Dec. 16 under a parliamentary authorization valid for one year, suggested that more cross-border operations could take place in the future if necessary. "The north of Iraq will be monitored closely in regard to PKK activities, and the terrorist organization will not be allowed to pose a threat to Turkey from this region," it said. "Anti-terror measures will continue at home and abroad."

Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin also said the parliamentary authorization, passed in late October, could be used for further operations. "This operation has achieved its goals. The authorization could be used again if necessary," he said.

In Washington, White House Press Secretary Gordon Johndroe said "it was a targeted and relatively short operation" as requested by Gates and added, "But I would certainly expect that in the future, that unless the PKK gives up terrorism, that we''re going to have to continue to work with the Turks and the Iraqis to go after them."

"I think there''s one thing that remains clear, and that is the United States, Turkey and Iraq all will continue to view the PKK as a terrorist organization that needs to be dealt with. So we will continue to have cooperation with them on dealing with that organization," Johndroe said.
Throughout the operation, some 272 PKK targets were hit. Dozens of caves, shelters, command centers, training and logistics centers and transportation facilities have also been destroyed. The offensive has claimed the lives some 27 security personnel, including three government-paid village guards. Tanks or other armored vehicles have not been used during the operation, the military said.

No outside pressure

The military also asserted that there was no outside influence on the decision to pull out troops, referring to US statements on Thursday calling for quick withdrawal. "The start and end dates of the operation have been decided purely on the basis of military needs and requirements. There has been no inside or outside influence on the decision," it said. "Some of the troops had already returned on the day when some reports on this issue emerged," it went on, referring to Thursday, when Gates visited Ankara.

But in a sign that the timing of the withdrawal might have come as a surprise to the government, the Prime Ministry revised the text of an address by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the nation yesterday afternoon to take into account the troop pullout, hours after an embargoed copy of the speech which spoke of continuing operations was sent to the semi-official Anatolia news agency.

Erdogan, who was attending an economy meeting when the first reports of Turkish withdrawal broke, met with his military advisor, Lt. Gen. Nusret Tasdelen, later in the day. Tasdelen is also the head of the Operations Department at the General Staff.
The beginning date of the operation also came as a surprise, as many experts had predicted it would be unwise to launch a ground offensive in the mountainous northern Iraq in the winter. The military said the timing was intentional, in order to catch the PKK unprepared and to make best use of the armed forces'' capacity to carry out operations in less favorable weather conditions.

The statement called on PKK members to leave the organization and take refuge in the "justice and compassion of the state."

Hours before the military statement was released, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said all Turkish troops had withdrawn, adding: "We welcome this; we think this is the right thing for Turkey to do." He said the withdrawal showed that the "military carried out its promises" to remove Turkish troops after finishing operations against the PKK.

In Ankara, however, an opposition lawmaker slammed the government for what he called "unfortunate timing" of the troop withdrawal. "The timing was wrong. The government has failed to show enough political will to support the operation" after Gates called for a quick end to it, said Oktay Vural, deputy parliamentary group chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Earlier, a US official in Baghdad said: "We are seeing a limited portion of the troops that had entered Iraq moving back toward Turkey. [It is] too early to call this a withdrawal."
Iraqi Kurds, long suspicious of neighboring Turkey, fear it is seeking to undermine the autonomy of Iraq''s oil-rich Kurdish region. Ankara says it wants only to end terrorism

Friday, April 18, 2008

IAVA/ACWV House Party

April 30, 2008
3:30 PM - 12:00 AM

Join us on April 30th for an IAVA - Charlie Wilson's War House Party. We're going to watch the film, and then join in on a national conference call with IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff, Nathaniel Fick, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and is the best-selling author of "One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer", and Charlie Wilson himself.


American Cold War Veterans Meeting Best Western Rosslyn/Iwo Jima 1501 Arlington Blvd. Arlington, VA 22209-3001

MUSHROOM CLOUD: Eight surviving veterans of the nuclear testing programme from the Isle of Man are set to receive compensation following a pioneering Tynwald vote in January
MUSHROOM CLOUD: Eight surviving veterans of the nuclear testing programme from the Isle of Man are set to receive compensation following a pioneering Tynwald vote in January

VETERANS of the Cold War atomic bomb tests should receive compensation from the Manx Government by the summer, according to the MLC who championed the payout call in Tynwald.

Eight surviving veterans of the nuclear testing programme from the Isle of Man are set to receive compensation following a pioneering Tynwald vote in January, in a move that could add pressure on the UK to follow suit.

Eddie Lowey, whose motion calling for the payout was unanimously carried by the court, said he expected each veteran to receive between £8,000 and £10,000 — a sum equivalent to that given to survivors of the Japanese prisoner-of-war camps.

And he believes that compensation should be awarded not just to the eight veterans living in the Isle of Man but to all Manxmen used as guinea pigs in the Pacific A-bomb and H-bomb tests in the 1950s — wherever they may live now — and to those who have subsequently made the Island their home.

Mr Lowey said: 'It's progressing well and it will happen before July.

'They will get no less than the people from the Japanese POW camps. The amount is piffling — it's a token payment. These people were experimented on. From the
government's point of view it's a win-win situation.

'Of course, Manxmen now living abroad should be eligible and those who were English nationals at the time but have spent a lifetime here. There is no such thing as first and second-class Manxmen.'

Thousands of British and American troops were ordered to watch the mushroom clouds of a series of hydrogen and atomic bomb explosions during postings to the Pacific in the 1950s.

They were given little or no protection and many suffered a lifetime of poor health as a result. Many have died of illnesses linked to radiation exposure.

The Council of Ministers is currently considering the mechanism for compensating the nuclear test veterans and will report back to Tynwald in July.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

ACWV Patches now available!!!!! 2 1/2 inch American Made

Our cost is $8.00 a patch we are selling them at 10.00 each with shipping included per patch. We are hoping to break even on them.