Saturday, December 31, 2011

VFW Legislative Review

As the year ends and the first session of the 112th Congress comes to a close, the VFW would like to thank all of our advocates who helped us fight to create, protect and enhance the services and benefits provided to America's service members, veterans and their families. It is because of you that we were able to get four critical bills passed into law:

* P.L. 112-56, VOW to Hire Heroes Act – a comprehensive jobs bill that improves reemployment rights for Guard and Reservist, expands education and training programs, requires mandatory Transitional Assistance Program attendance, and offers employer tax credits for hiring veterans.
* P.L. 112-53, Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2011, increases the rates of VA disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children by 3.6%, which matches the COLA increase military retirees and Social Security recipients will receive.
* P.L. 112-37, Veterans Health Care Facilities Capital Improvement Act of 2011, legislation that authorizes major medical projects and leases within VA, and expands mental health treatments, rehabilitation and comprehensive homeless veteran housing programs.
* P.L. 112-26, Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011, provides a fix in reimbursement rates under the Post-9/11 GI Bill for students already enrolled at private schools.

There are other bills passed by the House that still await Senate action. They include mortgage protections for service members, harsher penalties for misrepresenting a business as owned or controlled by service-disabled veterans, sexual assault prevention measures within VA, and improvements to the disability claims and appeals process. Review a list of VFW-supported legislation. For more about the public laws, visit

Happy New Year!

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Friday, December 30, 2011

A Message From Ilario Pantano

Dear Fellow Patriot,

As 2011 comes to end I wonder -- Is America on the retreat?

Recently, our armed forces began their hurried, and massive, withdrawal from Iraq. Our headquarters and rally point -- Camp Victory -- is now under Iraqi control. Every war must have its end, but are we putting Americans at risk by giving up on a key front in the War on Terror? Is it a sign of progress?  Or is it the retreat of America's will? I pray that Iran doesn't force us to answer that question before we are ready.  Or did the jamming of one of our most super secret drones by the Iranian Government, no doubt using Chinese Technology, answer the question for us?

As we pull back in Iraq, I have trouble ignoring that we are pulling back everywhere.  The recent failure of the Super Committee to reach a debt deal and cut $1.2 trillion from the federal government marks just another example of where our leaders have backed down. Or maybe I'm thinking of the debt ceiling -- which we raised despite skyrocketing amounts of spending that will cripple multiple generations of Americas.

Well I've had enough of it. It's time we had lawmakers with some backbone who understand that the hard things are the things worth doing and that voters aren't willing to accept more do-nothing, retreatist leadership out of Washington.

I'm ready to show Washington that the retreating is over. It's time to advance. With an immediate contribution to my campaign for Congress, you can send a strong message to all of America that we're done with weak-willed leadership.

It's time we stopped with the half measures. We've got to stop lounging around looking for what parts of ObamaCare we can repeal...we just need to repeal it all! We can't keep debating about which parts of entitlement programs are running up debt...because it's the whole thing! Every time our will to act weakens our critics and enemies grow a little bit stronger. I hate to say it, but someday they are going to grow strong enough to beat us.

I promise you -- that I would be willing lay down my life fighting before I'd see that happen.  I've been in combat.  I know what that promise means and it's not idle talk.

Stand with me.  Make an immediate contribution of $25, $50, $75, $100, $250, $500 or more -- whatever you can give -- and give to my campaign today.  I won't let you down in Washington.

It's not enough for me to be brave.  We all need to be brave together to succeed.  We need leaders in Washington that will advance America forward and not accept retreat as a solution to adversity.

Stand with me today and stand for a strong, prosperous America.  As we head into 2012, I ask for you support.

Semper Fi,

Ilario Pantano
Marine Corps Combat Veteran, Operations Iraqi Freedom and Desert Storm
Candidate for US Congress, North Carolina's 7th District

P.S.  We need leaders in Washington that will advance America forward and not accept retreat

Pantano For Congress
P.O. Box 11280
Wilmington, NC 28404

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Rules Liberalized for Veterans with Undiagnosed Illness


December 29, 2011                      


Application Window Extended for Five Years

WASHINGTON – Veterans of the Persian Gulf War with undiagnosed illnesses have an additional five years to qualify for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Not all the wounds of war are fully understood," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "When there is uncertainty about the connection between a medical problem and military service, Veterans are entitled to the benefit of the doubt."

A recent change in VA regulations affects Veterans of the conflict in Southwest Asia.  Many have attributed a range of undiagnosed or poorly understood medical problems to their military services.  Chemical weapons, environmental hazards and vaccinations are among the possible causes.

At issue is the eligibility of Veterans to claim VA disability compensation based upon those undiagnosed illnesses, and the ability of survivors to qualify for VA's Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.

Under long-standing VA rules, any undiagnosed illnesses used to establish eligibility for VA benefits must become apparent by Dec. 31, 2011.  The new change pushes the date back to Dec. 31, 2016.

Veterans or survivors who believe they qualify for these benefits should contact VA at 1-800-827-1000.

Further information about undiagnosed illnesses is available online at and


#  #  #

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000



Directors: "Mouse" McCoy, Scott Waugh
Writer: Kurt Johnstad
Cast: Active Duty Navy SEALs, Roselyn Sanchez, Alex Veadov, Jason Cottle, Nester Serrano
Producers: Mike "Mouse" McCoy, Scott Waugh
Executive Producers:  Jason Clark, Max Leitman, Michael Mailis, Jay Pollak, Lance Sloane, Benjamin Statler, Thomas Tull
Official SIte:

An unprecedented blend of real-life heroism and original filmmaking, Act of Valor stars a group of active-duty Navy SEALs in a powerful story ofcontemporary global anti-terrorism. Inspired by true events, the film combines stunning combat sequences, up-to-the minute battlefield technology and heart-pumping emotion for the ultimate action adventure.

Act of Valor takes audiences deep into the secretive world of the most elite, highly trained group of warriors in the modern world. When the rescue of a kidnapped CIA operative leads to the discovery of a deadly terrorist plot against the U.S., a team of SEALs is dispatched on a worldwide manhunt. As the valiant men of Bandito Platoon race to stop a coordinated attack that couldkill and wound thousands of American civilians, they must balance their commitment to country, team and their families back home.

Each time they accomplish their mission, a new piece of intelligence reveals another shocking twist to the deadly terror plot, which stretches from Chechnya to the Philippines and from Ukraine to Somalia. The widening operation sends the SEALs across the globe as they track the terrorist ring to the U.S.-Mexico border, where they engage in an epic firefight with an outcome that has potentially unimaginable consequences for the future of America.

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Afghan Army plans, executes artillery training [Image 2 of 6]

Oh Hail Oh Hail Artillery

Flames blast from a D-30, 122 mm howitzer barrel after firing a round, as is typical with the Soviet-made weapon system. Afghan soldiers with the 4th Combat Support Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th Corps, coordinated and executed their second live-fire artillery training exercise.

2nd Marine Division

Photo by Sgt. Earnest J. Barnes

Date Taken: 12.29.2011

Location: CAMP DWYER, AF
Related Photos:

We'll send you an American flag

Dear USO Supporter --

Time is running out before the December 31 deadline. Our troops are counting on you, so please take a moment right now to make a tax-deductible donation and we'll send you an American flag. And thanks to a generous anonymous donor, any gift made to the USO up to $350,000 will be matched dollar-for-dollar before midnight on December 31.

Double your impact by donating today.

Our troops do so much for us. Let's do everything we can to let them know they are at home in our hearts.


Kelli Seely, USO

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team

Photo of the day: Members of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team play against local celebrities at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., on September 4, 2011. The team is comprised of active duty members and Veterans who have lost limbs while serving in the military since September 11, 2001.

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Saudi F-15 Deal $30 Billion Inked

US to Sell F-15 Fighters to Saudi Arabia

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29, 2011 - The United States will sell 84 new F-15 fighter jets and upgrades for 70 existing aircraft to Saudi Arabia under a nearly $29.4 billion agreement, U.S. officials announced today.

During a joint State Department and Defense Department briefing today, James N. Miller, principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy, and Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, discussed the sale.

"The United States is firmly committed to the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as we have been for nearly seven decades, and ... more broadly, the United States and Saudi Arabia have a strong mutual interest in the security and stability of the Gulf," Miller said.

The F-15s Saudi Arabia will receive "will have the latest generation of computing power, radar technology, infrared sensors and electronic warfare systems," he added.

"This agreement reinforces the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia," Shapiro said. "It demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a strong Saudi defense capability as a key component to regional security."

State and DOD have worked to conclude the agreement since June 2010, Shapiro added.

The White House earlier today released a statement detailing the Foreign Military Sales program agreement, which also will provide munitions, spare parts, training, maintenance and logistics support for the F-15s to the Royal Saudi Air Force.

James N. Miller

Have another inquiry? Visit the online FAQ at for up-to-date information.

Get the help you, your family, and fellow servicemembers need, when you need it. Visit to learn more.

Check out the National Resource Directory at, a new web-based resource for wounded, ill and injured service members, veterans, their families, families of the fallen and those who support them from the Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs.

This service is provided to you at no charge by U.S. Department of Defense. Visit us on the web at

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Army Vet offers hope to Homeless

A Army veteran who battled drugs and homelessness now helps others get off the streets.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

USO Make a Last Minute Gift

It's Down to the Wire

If you're in need of that one last special gift, we have lots of ideas to choose from -- and every gift in the USO Wishbook helps support our troops!


Buy a Last Minute Gift
Support Our Troops

Shop Now >>

Letting someone know you've made a gift to our troops in their name is sure to make them happy. Order your gifts now and, in a matter of minutes, you'll have a printable ecard ready to go. No shipping, no delay -- just comfort to our troops in your loved ones name.

Shop the USO Wishbook

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Happy Birthday Jesus

Having difficulty seeing the images in this message? View it online.


As a grateful nation prepares to celebrate the joyous holiday season, we also honor your service.

The peace and calm of the holidays wouldn't be ours to enjoy without the dedication of America's veterans.

Thank you.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Home FaceBook Twitter youtube RSS Find A Post Contribute About us Contact us Unsubscribe TAF VFW

Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

VFW's Washington Weekly

December 23, 2011

Tuition Assistance Policy Change on Hold
On Jan. 1, 2012, the Department of Defense was scheduled to implement a new Memorandum of Understanding for schools to accept Tuition Assistance program dollars on behalf of enrolled service members. The VFW heard from several of the nation's most reputable academic institutions that they stood to lose their TA eligibility should the new MOU take effect, which is why VFW advocates called on Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to delay the MOU's implementation, pending further review. The Pentagon once again listened to the VFW by extending the signing deadline to March 12, 2012. Learn more and read VFW's letter to Secretary Panetta about potential issues with the new MOU.

Military Healthcare Access Expands
The final FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act included a VFW-supported provision that will enhance military and retiree access to mental and behavioral health care providers and services. The Servicemembers' Telemedicine and E-Health Portability (STEP) Act will provide flexibility in state licensing and credentialing by enabling qualified DOD healthcare professionals to use telemedicine and e-health services to treat service members. Current law only allows health care professionals to treat those in the state where they are licensed. VFW praised the passage of the provision in the NDAA as it provides National Guard, Reserve and military retirees, especially those residing in rural areas, more access to the care they need and deserve.

VA Completes Newborn Care Regulations
VA finalized regulations for providing care to newborn children of women veterans, as required in the Caregivers and Veteran Omnibus Health Services Act (P.L. 111-163). The provision, sponsored by Senate VA Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA), will provide services for newborns up to seven days after birth if the child of the mother delivers in a VA facility or another facility contracted by VA for maternity care. Click here for more information on VA services for women.

Google for Veterans
The VFW, actor Gary Sinise, and CBS affiliates nationwide have joined Google in a 30-second public service announcement to launch Google for Veterans, which will enable military personnel, veterans and families to better connect, share and document their stories and lessons learned from deploying and redeploying to transitioning and job seeking. There is also a resume builder and a free video chat feature. The initiative is the result of military veterans and family members who work for Google, who understand the challenges of serving, coming home and transitioning to civilian life. View the PSA.

Two Korean War MIAs Identified
The Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office recently announced the identification of remains of two soldiers missing in action since the Korean War. Read more.

Returned home are:

  • Army Cpl. Agustin Alvarez, 22, of Los Angeles. In November 1950, Alvarez and soldiers from the Heavy Mortar Company, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, were forced to withdraw during a battle on the eastern side of the Chosin Reservoir, near Kaljon-ri, North Korea. Alvarez was captured but would die from his wounds and lack of medical care in December 1950.
  • Army Pfc. Maximo A. Troche, 24, of New York. On Feb. 4, 1951, Troche and soldiers from the I Company, 3rd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, fought against Communist forces near Yangpyeong, Kyonggi Province, South Korea. After the battle, Troche was listed as missing in action. It was later learned that he was captured but died from dysentery in April 1951.

From the VFW Washington Office family to yours, please have a safe and joyous Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and holiday season!

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Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Friday, December 23, 2011

12/22/2011 01:09 PM CST

The battle against the psychological scars of war is being helped by technology. One application for smart phones and the iPAD, is called the T2 Mood Tracker. It helps patients monitor their behavior over time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Student Launches New Data Base Tool for Locating Veterans Burial Records

The holidays are a time for reflection and giving thanks. For families of veterans, that might mean paying a visit to the grave of a loved one to lay a wreath or say a prayer. Now there is a new online tool to help facilitate the process of locating veteran graves.

A student at the University of California at Santa Barbara partnered with FindTheData to help create a tool for finding graves of veterans and their beneficiaries, such as children and spouses. A recent data release by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was used to build the tool. You can search for graves by deceased date, name, military rank, military branch etc. Use the following widget to find a grave or visit LocateGrave

Feel free to contact evan_thomas (@) with any questions, comments or ideas regarding the tool.

84mm recoilless rifle

84mm recoilless rifle by The U.S. Army
84mm recoilless rifle, a photo by The U.S. Army on Flickr.

The U.S. Army

A civilian instructor coaches two paratroopers with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division on how to use a Carl Gustav 84mm recoilless rifle during a certification class at Fort Bragg, N.C. The multi-role weapon can be used against armor, fortifications and personnel.

VFW Action Sparks Pentagon to Delay Education Policy Changes

Late last week the Pentagon announced it will delay implementing new education policies that would have drastically affected service members using tuition assistance, or TA.

On Jan. 1, 2012, the Department of Defense was scheduled to implement a new Memorandum of Understanding for schools to accept TA on behalf of enrolled service members. Unfortunately, leading institutions across higher education found the new MOU to be prohibitively restrictive, requiring many schools to drastically overhaul administrative and academic policies by January 1, or be locked out of the TA program.

The VFW heard from several top schools that stood to lose their TA eligibility should the new MOU take effect, which is why VFW advocates called on Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to delay the MOU's implementation, pending further review.

The new MOU is designed to offer more transparency for potential students and curb predatory and deceptive practices among schools of questionable quality which were potentially eligible to participate in the TA program. The VFW has consistently applauded the Pentagon for taking decisive action to ensure service members have access to quality education, but the new MOU caused many leading institutions to balk at the binding requirements, while some of the schools the Pentagon sought to reign in had no problem signing the new memorandum.

The Pentagon once again listened by extending the signing deadline to March 12, 2012, which will provide schools more time to hammer out details and sign the comprehensive MOU to ensure quality educational opportunities for service members without limiting student access or compromising academic integrity.

The VFW was not the lone voice in the fight, as many of the nation's leading veterans' advocates and 52 bipartisan Senate offices also sent letters to Secretary Panetta, asking for a delay in implementing the new MOU.

According to the Pentagon, more than 320,000 service members took advantage of TA in 2011. The VFW has been a strong proponent of the TA program's value, which helps service members not only hone skills they will use in the military, but also prepares them for careers beyond military service.

Your VFW will continue to advocate for quality educational options for American service members and veterans, ensuring benefits like TA and the GI Bill continue to prepare our nation's future leaders. If you have a success story from the military's TA program that you would like to share, please tell us in the comments section below.

(Image: VFW letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, asking for a delay in the implementation of the new Tuition Assistance MOU.)

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Panetta Says Nuclear-Armed Iran 'Unacceptable'

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2011 - A nuclear-armed Iran is "unacceptable" to the United States and no option to prevent that from happening is off the table, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told CBS News.

Panetta told 60 Minutes reporter Scott Pelley that if Iranian leaders decided to go full bore on their nuclear program, then they could have nuclear weapons within a year. It could be quicker if the Iranians have a hidden facility enriching fuel, the secretary said during the Dec. 17 interview.

The secretary, speaking aboard his aircraft on the way back from a visit to the Middle East, Central Asia and Libya, pointed out that Israel and the United States share a common concern about Iran developing nukes.

"That's a red line for us," he said. "And it's a red line, obviously, for the Israelis. If we have to do it, we will do it."

If the Iranians proceed with the development of nuclear weapons, Panetta said, "Then we will take whatever steps are necessary to stop it." This would include military options, the secretary said.

Inspectors from the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency are well-placed in Iran to observe nuclear activities, said Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.

The secretary believes the U.N. inspectors would know if Iranian leaders make the decision to produce nuclear weapons.

"They have not done so yet," Kirby said.

Leon E. Panetta

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Holiday Message from DAV

Dear Sean,

Sharing the Season's Joy With Heroes!
091224-M-1740M- 111.jpg
The DAV joins these great Marines in wishing you happy holidays!

But, as you make your holiday gift of $25, $50 or $100, let us remind you that many disabled vets face great need at this time of year.
Donate button blue

During this holiday season, as our troops leave Iraq and start drawing down Afghanistan, we at the DAV are rolling up our sleeves to ensure a happy homecoming for America's heroes.

It warms my heart to picture kids trimming the Christmas tree or lighting the Menorah with moms and dads just home from war.

What a thrill it will be for many of our war-weary troops to rediscover the joy of being "home for the holidays," Sean!

At such a wonderful time, no hero's heart should be heavy with worry or pain. Yet for many veterans, the transition back to "normal" life is a tough one.

Make sure these challenges don't extinguish the season's joy as you deliver comfort and hope through the DAV.

Your gifts to disabled veterans are many. Through the DAV, you help them get urgently needed benefits, earned through the sacrifice of their blood and their health.

You support a host of DAV volunteers who, right now, are flooding veterans' hospitals with seasonal spirit! You bring DAV programs onto military bases and into communities like yours.

All of this warms my heart, especially the thought of troops who will be "home for Christmas" this year physically — not "only in their dreams."

As you consider the great gifts you received from freedom's brave defenders, will you offer our disabled veterans your holiday gift of $25 … $50 … $100 or more now?

Sharing the Season's Joy With Heroes!


Arthur H. Wilson, National Adjutant
Disabled American Veterans











Since its founding more than 90 years ago, Disabled American Veterans has been dedicated to a single purpose: Building Better Lives for America's Disabled Veterans and Their Families.

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Monday, December 19, 2011

Veteran's best friend: Trained dogs help soldiers with disorder

Read whole article Charlotte Observer


Columbia's 1st Sgt. Will Roberts, a U.S. Army paratrooper, has been deployed into combat seven times with the elite 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

Kosovo. Bosnia. Two deployments to Iraq. Three to Afghanistan.

Each of those deployments involved intense, front-line fighting with Roberts leading some of the nation's most hardened soldiers: Army Rangers.

"I lived for that war stuff," said Roberts, 45.

Today, Roberts is one of the estimated 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And with the Iraq war winding down - the last U.S. troops are leaving that country this month - more and more service members are returning home. Many are returning with injuries, including psychological trauma, and many are in the Midlands.

Roberts' PTSD was triggered by a particularly nasty roadside bomb attack in a remote valley in Afghanistan.

"I lost a lot of paratroopers" is all that he will say.

When he got back home, Roberts' life devolved into a nightmare of headaches and flashbacks, fear and anger. Everyone became a potential enemy. An ambush lurked around every corner. There was no escaping the fear.

One day, in the back of a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Columbia, he became so disoriented that he couldn't find an exit. He panicked, curling up in the fetal position in the dairy aisle. The police were called. It wasn't the first time it had happened.

"I was so ashamed," he said. "I was an Airborne Ranger, for Pete's sake. But it just consumed me."

Roberts is still in the Army, being treated at Fort Jackson's Warrior Transition Unit. And one of the important facets of this tall, battle-scarred paratrooper's treatment is an adorable, 55-pound black Labrador retriever named R.C.

"She's my battle buddy now," said Roberts, as he lay on the floor of the Spring Valley home that houses Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services, or PAALS. "The only thing that keeps me going is working with the dog."

Those needing help

Twenty percent of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are diagnosed with PTSD, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Other estimates are as high as 40 percent.

But less than half of returning service members actually seek help for it.

Symptoms are numerous, including flashbacks, insomnia, disinterest in sex, violence and feelings of isolation, guilt, and depression. Those suffering from PTSD can have trouble holding a job, more frequently contemplate suicide and are more likely to become homeless.

And with troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in ever-increasing numbers, the "silent epidemic," as it is called, could become more pronounced, especially in Columbia and South Carolina. In a recent McClatchy Newspapers study of the concentration of disabled veterans from the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan by ZIP code, Columbia was ranked 28th out of 890 areas nationwide, because of the presence of Fort Jackson, McEntire and Shaw air bases and a large contingent of National Guardsmen and Reservists.

One of the more innovative programs to help treat service members diagnosed with PTSD is service dogs.

Much like seeing-eye dogs, service dogs help their owners through the trials of daily life.

In this case, the dogs serve as a calming influence for a service member who sees danger in every person he meets and every room he enters.

When Roberts becomes concerned, R.C. places a gentle paw on his foot, or curls around his legs, as if to say, "Everything is OK. There is no danger here."

Calm in all situations

Alison Thirkield, a psychologist at Fort Jackson's Moncrief Army Community Hospital, said PTSD causes sufferers to shun other people and barricade themselves physically and emotionally from the outside world and the danger they perceive to be there.

The dogs help veterans build a relationship with another living being, which brings back a feeling of competence and confidence that they can take care of the animal.

The dog is trained to be calm in all situations, and even to apply pressure on the different parts of the person's body that alleviate anxiety: the feet, the legs, the lap.

"The dog is like (an anxiety) meter," Thirkield said.

They are even taught to obey military orders, as other soldiers would in combat.

Directed to "block me," the dog takes the point to warn of any danger ahead.

"Watch my back," means the dog does an about-face and keeps an eye on everything behind the service member.

"Pop a corner" means the dog looks around an upcoming corner to make sure the way is clear.

"They adopt the military lingo with the dogs because the soldiers are comfortable with it," Thirkield said.

But service dogs are just one way to battle PTSD. At Fort Jackson they also employ other nontraditional methods, such as acupuncture, yoga and "mindfulness" - the over-arching term for mediation and relaxation therapies - in addition to counseling and more traditional methods.

Gary Phillips, 67, of Columbia, has been dealing with the effects of PTSD since 1968. He witnessed three horrific incidents as a platoon leader during the Tet Offensive that triggered the disorder. He won't talk about the incidents, but since then has dealt with constant nightmares and still struggles to go outside.

His dog, Spirit, "gives me freedom to want to go places," Phillips said. "She calms me down enough to use the other practices I've learned through my therapy."

Related Images


Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Huff Post : North Korea Missile Test Reported After Announcement Of Kim Jong Il Death|htmlws-main-bb|dl1|sec3_lnk1&pLid=121423

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea conducted at least one short-range missile test Monday, the same day it announced the death of leader Kim Jong Il, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

Two South Korean military officials said they couldn't immediately confirm the report, saying to do so would breach a policy of not commenting on intelligence matters.

Both said any firing would be part of a routine drill and have little relation to Kim Jong Il's death. They both spoke on condition of anonymity, citing policy.

Yonhap cited unidentified government and military officials as saying the test occurred off the east coast.

North Korea is urging its people to rally behind Kim Jong Il's young son and heir-apparent Kim Jong Un, as the world watches warily for signs of instability in a nation pursuing nuclear weapons.

South Korea has put its military on high alert against the North's 1.2 million-strong armed forces. President Barack Obama agreed by phone with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to closely monitor developments.

North Korea is preparing for next year's 100th anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il Sung – Kim Jong Il's father. The preparations include massive construction projects throughout the capital as part of Kim Jong Il's unfulfilled promise to bring prosperity to his people.

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Russia Ramps Up New 'Satan' Nuke After U.S. Talks Breakdown

WASHINGTON: Russia is pressing ahead with a new nuclear missile which Moscow claims is a part of a renewed effort to bolster the country's missile defense systems.

This new intercontinental ballistic missile, nicknamed "Satan" by Western analysts, will sport a 100-ton warhead and replace the Voevoda-class missile in the Russian nuclear arsenal, according to recent news reports. This massive ICBM will take its place alongside the Yars, Topol-M and Bulava-class ballistic missiles sometime in 2015, according to Sergei Karakaev, head of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces. Development of the new ICBM will coincide with plans to revamp the country's missile silo complexes over the next decade, Karakaev told Russian media. Moscow's decision to accelerate work on the new "Satan"-class ICBM was directly tied to recently failed missile defense negotiations between Russia and the United States.

Russian president Dimitri Medvedev broke off negotiations with the White House in November on the administration's plan to set up a missile shield in Europe. The European Phased Adaptive Approach plan is a network of sea and land-based missile launchers designed to counter missile strikes from Iran. Cooperation with Russia is integral to making the missile shield work. But Moscow claims the U.S. could not guarantee American missiles would not be used to take out Russian targets. "Russia does not stand against the U.S. missile defense system. Russia stands against the creation of the missile defense system, which would be directly aimed against Russia," Karakaev said. That impasse forced Medvedev to walk away from the deal and begin work on its own super nuke.

But Washington's unwillingness to hand over classified missile defense secrets to their Russian counterparts was the real deal breaker between the former Cold War rivals, according to one key GOP lawmaker. Sen Mark Kirk told AOL Defense last week that Russia could not be trusted with America's most sensitive missile defense technologies. The country's well-established ties with Iran would virtually guarantee any secrets handed to the Russians would make their way to Tehran, Kirk said. That kind of cooperation would hand Tehran exactly what they need to deter the European missile shield, courtesy of their friends in Moscow.

The State Department and the Pentagon remain committed to bringing the Russians back to the negotiating table. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said the U.S. is determined to find "common ground" with Russia on the proposed missile shield. Dempsey would not comment on what proposals American negotiators were offering to entice Russia back to the negotiating table since those proposals are constantly in flux. The upside to that, he noted, is that negotiators on both sides are in "constant contact" to get a deal done, he said.

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Toys for Tots Links


In addition to fighting our wars, guarding our embassies and serving as America's force in readiness on ships around the globe, the Marine Corps also has a charitable toy program. Through Toys For Tots, the Marine Corps Reserve distributes toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the toys are collected.
The mission is to "deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens."
It is a great program and there is still time to participate.
The links below will help you find the nearest Toys For Tots location where you can drop of a new, unwrapped toy for a needy child. 
Click Here For Dutchess, Orange,  Ulster & Sullivan County Toy Drop Off Locations

Click Here For Westchester and Putnam CountyToy Drop Off Locations
Click Here for the New York State Toys For Tots Website

Click Here For the  National Toys For Tots Website

Kieran Michael Lalor is a former high school teacher, Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and founder of the consulting firm KML Strategies, LLC.  He is a graduate of Providence College and Pace Law School and is currently pursuing an MBA at Pace University's Lubin School of Business. Lalor is the founder of Afghanistan & Iraq Veterans for Congress (AIVC) and a frequent guest on Fox & Friends.

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000

Face of Defense: Soldier Earns Medal for Saving German’s Life

By C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2011 – Army Staff Sgt. Peter Woken was uniquely honored recently for proving that, in combat, it doesn't matter what languages your allies speak, every soldier who fights alongside you is like a brother.

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German Ambassador Peter Ammon presented U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Peter Woken with the German Medal of Honor for Gallantry in Action, which is similar to the American Silver Star, during a ceremony at the ambassador's home in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2011. U.S. Army photo by C. Todd Lopez 
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The German government highlighted that reality of war Dec. 8 when German Ambassador to the United States Peter Ammon presented Woken with the German Medal of Honor for Gallantry in Action -- an award similar to the American Silver Star.

Addressing the noncommissioned officer's wife and two sons who attended the ceremony, Ammon told the family an entire nation is thankful for Woken's actions in Afghanistan which saved the life of German Cpl. Tim Focken.

"The German government and the German people are deeply grateful for your husband and your father," Ammon said.

Ammon pinned the medal on Woken's uniform. The sergeant, now part of the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Hood, Texas, is the first American to receive the medal on American soil. Seven other U.S. soldiers involved in saving Focken's life also received the medal, though it was presented to them in theater by German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière.

Woken had said that he views the recognition as confirmation of what soldiers know about their comrades -- that soldiering together unites servicemen across languages and nationalities.

"Even though Germany is honoring me this way, I think what they are conveying is that we are all brothers," Woken said. "This type of award generally doesn't go to Americans. It will go to Germans on German soil. We feel the same way. They are fighting the same enemy that we are, and we are all brothers."

To an infantryman, uniform, language and nationality make no difference if you're fighting on the same side, Focken said.

"We've had a lot of battles, and we've fought side-by-side with 10th Mountain," he said. "There was never a discussion of who is there to help who and to save who. It's basically like brothers, and if anybody needed help, nationality doesn't matter. You're there to help."

Focken was shot Oct. 7, 2010 when his German ground patrol at Qala-ye Zai, Afghanistan, came under enemy fire. After receiving immediate medical assistance from German army medics, Focken boarded an American Black Hawk helicopter where flight medic Woken tended to the injured soldier's wounds during travel to a military hospital.

The action in Afghanistan that earned him the award was typical of what combat medics are called upon to do as many as 10 times a day. Woken said he has performed so many rescues that he's lost count.

"I had stopped counting at 357," he said. "At that point, it was becoming kind of redundant to even count."

Woken, a Tacoma, Wash., native, said teams like his are on call for 48 hours at a time with 24 hours of down time between. On that day in Afghanistan, his team was waiting in a "relaxed state," he said, until they got the call to do a rescue. Then, he said, "We went from basically zero to 100 in a matter of minutes."

"We were flying about as fast as we could go to the scene," he said. "We were told there were troops in contact. Once we got there, we overflew the scene one time. Normally we will do a high recon and then a low recon. And we only did one low recon and we landed. I guess our pilot chose to not do a full landing. We took off due to safety reasons."

The crew decided quickly to land again to pick up the injured German soldier; personal risk is not part of the equation, he said, when you are trying to save somebody's life.

"A flight medic shouldn't feel like they are taking a risk whatsoever," Woken said. "You have to think that God has your back, and you have the back of the soldier on the ground."

The Black Hawk stayed on the ground for less than a minute before Focken, who had been leading a team of three soldiers on the ground, was on board, Woken said.

"Our job was to go into the town, Qala-ye Zai, to do recon," Focken said. "We got there early so our company commander could do [intelligence gathering] and recon. My three soldiers and I were on the compound roof securing the perimeter. About a half hour after we got into Qala-ye Zai, heavy fighting broke out, with the Taliban insurgents firing. After about one and a half hours of intense fighting, a sharpshooter picked me off the roof."

Focken was hit in the left shoulder.

"I was talking to one of my guys when I got shot," he said. "It felt like a bolt of electricity going through my arm."

He was able to maintain order among his soldiers even after he was shot, and his soldiers applied aid to try to stop his bleeding. Once on the ground, a German medic tended to his wound, and then he was able to get to the helicopter.

"His attitude was probably one of the best I've seen out of any injured soldier," Woken said. "He was still in top physical condition. He was able to jump into the helicopter even though it was three and a half feet off the ground. He was able to speak with me and explain how he was feeling. And at the end of the mission, he walked off the helicopter."

Both Woken and Focken were present at the ceremony -- brought together for the event by the German government. The two had not been in contact with each other since Focken departed Woken's Black Hawk in Afghanistan in 2010.

"Normally I'll get my patient, I'll take care of them on the aircraft, then they walk away. I never hear or see from them again," Woken said. "This morning, I got to meet Corporal Tim Focken and start a relationship. It provides a lot of closure for me."

For Focken, he got a chance to say "thank you" to one of the American soldiers that helped save his life. "It's a great thing to say 'thank you' personally to Sergeant Woken and to his crew that saved me," he said.

Ammon said the award ceremony was about more than just a medal. He said it was about an enduring friendship between two allied nations.

"Today is more than just paying tribute to the bravery of one courageous serviceman who saved a fellow soldier," Ammon said. "Today, we also celebrate the lasting vitality of our alliance in challenging times -- an alliance that has roots going back to the American revolution of 1776, and an alliance that will remain a cornerstone of our security well into the 21st century."

Click photo for screen-resolution image    U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Peter Woken and German army Cpl. Tim Focken embrace following a ceremony, at the home of the German ambassador in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2011. During the event, Woken was awarded the German Medal of Honor for Gallantry in Action for saving Focken's like in Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo by C. Todd Lopez 

Click photo for screen-resolution image    German army Cpl. Tim Focken and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Peter Woken meet following a ceremonyat the home of the German ambassador in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2011. During the event, Woken was awarded the German Medal of Honor for Gallantry in Action for saving Focken's like in Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo by C. Todd Lopez 
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Click photo for screen-resolution image    U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli meets with Staff Sgt. Peter Woken following a ceremony at the home of the German ambassador in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8, 2011. During the event, Woken was awarded the German Medal of Honor for Gallantry in Action for saving the life of German army Cpl. Tim Focken following a conflict in Afghanistan

Sean P Eagan

Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
716 720-4000