Showing posts with label War Veterans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label War Veterans. Show all posts

August 30, 2019

Second Homicide At Virginia Veterans Hospital, Dying is One Thing But To be Murdered At Your Hospital?

"Even our Vet Hospitals are becoming Russia like"

                         Image result for veterans affairs hospital west Va

The widow of a veteran who died under suspicious circumstances at a West Virginia Veteran Affairs hospital last year told NPR an autopsy report found the 81-year-old died of unnecessary insulin injection. It is the second confirmed homicide in a string of deaths at the facility that is being investigated. 
The widow, Norma Shaw, referred further questions to her lawyer, David Glover. He said the body of George Nelson Shaw Sr. was exhumed in January. Shortly afterward, he said, the family received an autopsy from an Armed Forces medical examiner "that talked about a severe hypoglycemic event."
"It listed the cause of death as insulin administration," Glover said, adding that while Shaw had other ailments, he was not diabetic. 
Insulin can cause hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, in non-diabetics and can be deadly. 
The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Veteran Affairs confirmed on Tuesday officials are investigating several suspicious deaths at Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg. 
In a statement, the Inspector General's office said it has been working with federal law enforcement partners "to investigate the allegations of potential wrongdoing resulting in inpatient deaths." It did not specify the number of deaths that are being reviewed nor the time frame of the fatalities.  
The announcement of the ongoing investigations comes after a wrongful death claim was filed with the VA last week, regarding the death of retired Army Sgt. Felix Kirk McDermott. An autopsy of the 82-year-old who died on April 2018 showed McDermott received "one massive insulin injection" that killed him within a matter of hours, the family's attorney Tony O'Dell told NPR. 
The complaint filed by O'Dell alleges the Inspector General's office is investigating up to 10 other cases in which veteran patients died of hypoglycemia caused by insulin injections. Over the past week, he said, he's been contacted by multiple families seeking answers to unexplained hypoglycemic deaths dating as far back as June of 2017. 
"Whenever there's an unexplained death or a suspicious death, the hospital has to report it and they go through a process looking for the root cause," O'Dell explained. "The fact that that did not happen here tells you that there was a complete system failure at this hospital," he said. 
Officials at the medical center said in an emailed statement that the allegations of potential misconduct do not involve "current" employees. 
The VA has yet to publicly identify any person of interest. 
Reports of the suspicious deaths have drawn ire from the public and politicians, including U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito who were informed of the investigations several weeks ago. 
In a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie and Inspector General Michael Missal on Tuesday, Manchin, who sits on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, urged them to "quickly complete" the investigations into the potential homicides. 
"I also ask you to contact grieving family members and share as much information as you can with them." he wrote, adding that as of this morning he had heard from seven families seeking information into the deaths of their loved ones. 
Manchin also expressed frustration with the lack of communication and transparency from either office regarding the investigations. 
"Let us not forget that there are Veterans families who are in grief because of this terrible situation," he said. 
Emily Allen from West Virginia Public Broadcasting contributed to this story.

November 13, 2018

The Only Uplifting Moment for Donald was Vladimir Otherwise He Seemed Grouchy and Not Happy to be There with The Many

Donald Trump joked about being "drenched" by rain as he gave a speech at an Armistice ceremony just a day after canceling a visit to a cemetery because of poor weather.
Talking at the Suresnes American Cemetery in France, he spoke of the “terrible cost” of the allied forces’ victory in World War One.
Thanking six World War Two veterans in the crowd, he turned to one and said: “You look so comfortable up there, under shelter, as we’re getting drenched. You’re very smart people.”
After that he complimented the group for looking “in very good shape” and said: “I hope I look like that one day.”

President Trump shelters under an umbrella as he walks through the cemetery (EPA)

On Saturday, President Trump faced criticism for canceling a trip to a World War One memorial due to bad weather.
He was due to take part in a wreath-laying event and a minute's silence at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial, which is about 55 miles away from Paris.
However, heavy rain stopped him from arriving there via helicopter. 
It is not the first time he has bemoaned bad weather during a speech, having complained about a “bad hair day” when he spoke to reporters in the rain after a fatal shooting in Pittsburgh.

President Trump thanks military personnel and veterans in attendance

After this incident, which claimed 11 lives after a gunman attacked a synagogue, he said: “I was standing under the wing of Air Force One, doing a news conference earlier this morning, a very unfortunate news conference and the wind was blowing and the rain, and I was soaking wet.
“I said maybe I should cancel this arrangement because I have a bad hair day.”

President Trump smiles Vladimir Putin arrives at an Armistice Day event in Paris (AFP/Getty Images). Donald falsies look they are about to come out and kiss Vladimir Putin. Have you ever seen a smile like that between two heads of state? That was not all they came making hand signals for the limited time they were both there.

In his memorial speech on Sunday, he thanked a number of military personnel in attendance and a young American boy who had saved up money to attend.
He spoke of the armistice celebrations in 1918, when people took to the streets on hearing the news of war is over, though he said: “Victory had come at a terrible cost.”

Mr. Trump also described it as a “brutal war” as he spoke of those who lost their lives.
Speaking of soldiers who fell in World War One, he said: “It’s our duty to preserve the civilization they protected.”
Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump attended an event at the Arc de Triomphe, for the centenary of the armistice being signed. 
He was one of around 70 world leaders, including Russia's Vladimir Putin and Germany's Angela Merkel, to attend the service hosted by French president Emmanuel Macron.
This began slightly behind schedule and, after traveling separately from the majority of leaders in attendance, Mr. Trump was one of the last to arrive.

May 26, 2016

Trump NEVER Made $One Mil Donation to Vets-How we all found out

Image result for trump question mark

Going back to verify a politicians story requires lots of time and time is money. That is the reason that politicians like Trump and others make all kinds of claims banking precisely on that. It seems Trump depends on that situation more often than not given the amount of claims he latter does not remember or recants “I never said that” “ I don’t even know who_______is?”” I didn’t post that picture” “He did it first (posting pic)”        These are all recent posts so you can remember them or better yet, track them down.                                                              

On Tuesday, WaPo's Dave Fahrenthold got to the bottom of one of the big mysteries of Donald Trump's presidential campaign: Did he really raise and donate $6 million — including $1 million of his own money — to veterans' organizations as he had boasted for months?  I was fascinated by how Fahrenthold harnessed the power of social media to finally pin down Trump and get some answers. I reached out to Dave to pick his brain about why the story initially interested him and how and when he decided to take his reporting to Twitter. Our conversation, conducted via email and edited only for grammar, is below.
Explain your thought process when you decided to take on the Trump veterans donation claim. What drew you to it?
I’d seen Trump give away oversized checks to vets’ groups in Iowa — and then stop giving them away in New Hampshire, with much of the money still unaccounted for. I decided to see if I could find out what happened to the rest of it. I liked this story idea because it was so concrete. There was no need for speculation: “Could Trump really build the wall? Experts say …”). There was a specific claim — Trump had raised $6 million, and he was giving it away. And there were people outside Trump’s campaign (the vets’ charities) who could say whether that claim was actually coming true.
I started this as a side project in February, making a few calls to the charities Trump had listed as recipients. At that point, I figured it would most likely be a wild goose chase. I’d find out that the charities had all already received big donations from Trump, and that would be that. Because who stiffs military veterans in the middle of a presidential campaign? 
But then, the first ones I called said they hadn’t actually received anything yet from Trump. That got me started on what’s now been a few months of reporting. 
You used Twitter to report the story out. Why? And what was the result?
By this week, I thought I had a good handle on one part of this story: what became of the donations that other donors gave to Trump’s effort. We knew that at least $4.5 million had been raised, and $3.1 million had been given away so far. The piece that was missing was the $1 million that Trump said he’d given himself. His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, told me Trump had given the money away. But to who? Lewandowski wouldn’t say.  
I had doubts: Would Donald Trump, of all people, really give away $1 million in secret?
But that left me trying to prove a negative. I could try to call every veterans’ charity in the U.S. and ask them all individually if they’d received money from Trump. But even if I reached 1,000 charities, what if Trump had given his money to number 1,001?
I decided to make my search public, using Twitter to reach out to prominent veterans’ groups, vets advocates and news sites aimed at veterans and active-duty military. I asked whether any of them had received even $1 from Trump’s supposed million-dollar gift. I used Trump’s Twitter handle in my queries so they would show up in Trump’s own mentions. I wanted Trump to feel scrutiny on his preferred social-media platform in the hope that he would reach out to answer the question himself. Apparently, he noticed. That night, Trump sent several tweets attacking the media for its coverage of his fundraiser. And — at some point that evening — he actually made a call and gave his $1 million gift, almost four months late.
Amazingly, with all of the money I have raised for the vets, I have got nothing but bad publicity from the dishonest and disgusting media.
When did you realize that Trump hadn’t actually made the donation he said he made?
Not until Trump called me on Tuesday afternoon to say he’d just given the whole million at once. Until then, I hadn’t found proof of any gift of personal cash from Trump to a vets’ group. But of course, I also hadn’t been able to prove the negative: that such a gift definitely didn’t exist.
How did you get Trump on the phone? At what point in the story did it happen?
We had put in a request to talk with Trump on Tuesday, after he’d sent out those tweets and an Instagram message criticizing our reporting. But to be honest, I didn’t think he would call: In the past, my questions about the vets fundraising have been answered by Trump’s staffers, not the candidate himself.
But then, about 5 p.m., he did call from his plane. We had to scrap our old plan for that day’s story, which had been mainly focused on Trump’s attacks on the media. After I got off the phone with Trump, I called the foundation he’d given to and got confirmation that the $1 million had truly been promised to them. Then we quickly wrote up a story for the Web.
This was a story you used social media to execute. What’s been the response on Twitter and the like once the story landed?
I was really grateful that many other reporters – including many who don’t even cover politics – retweeted my queries seeking answers about Trump’s $1 million on Monday. I’m not much of a social-media expert, and my Twitter following is pretty measly. I got a lot of help from Post colleagues with bigger followings, of course. But I also got a huge boost from people like Matt Pearce at the L.A. Times and Sopan Deb at CBS (whom I offered to buy dinner if he could find me somebody who got Trump’s money). They amplified my questions, helped me reach a far larger audience than I could have on my own. It was wonderful to get that kind of vital help from people who are theoretically my competitors.
Since the story landed, the reception has been incredibly gracious. And I am glad that I don’t have to buy Sopan dinner after all.

November 19, 2014

When You send Your sons Daughters to Fight for Oil this is what what too often comes back

These pictures of wounded UK armed forces personnel were taken by Bryan Adams, the Canadian rock musician who is also a celebrated portrait photographer.
Four years worth of photos are published in a new book, Wounded: The Legacy of War, Photographs by Bryan Adams, and at an accompanying exhibition at Somerset House in London.

I just thought I should try and be as honest with them as possible, because they were being honest with me.
  • Bryan Adams, on being asked whether he felt the weight of responsibility in capturing traumatic personal narratives

Bryan Adams
Marine Mark Ormrod, injured in Afghanistan, aged 24

Bryan Adams
Private Alex Stringer, injured in Afghanistan, aged 20

Bryan Adams
Private Karl Hinett, injured in Iraq, aged 18

Bryan Adams
Sergeant Rick Clement, injured in Afghanistan, aged 30

Bryan Adams
Private Jaco Van Gass, injured in Afghanistan, aged 23

Bryan Adams
Private Jaco Van Gass, injured in Afghanistan, aged 23

Bryan Adams
Corporal Simon Brown, injured in Iraq, aged 28

Bryan Adams
Rifleman Craig Wood, injured in Afghanistan, aged 18

Bryan Adams
Corporal RickyFergusson, injured in Afghanistan, aged 24

Bryan Adams
Sergeant Rick Clement, injured in Afghanistan, aged 30

Bryan Adams
Lieutenant Will Dixon, injured in Afghanistan, aged 25

Bryan Adams
Sergeant Mark Sutcliffe, injured in Iraq, aged 27

Bryan Adams
Corporal Rory Mackenzie, injured in Iraq, aged 25

Bryan Adams
Marine Joe Townsend, injured in Afghanistan, aged 19

(All pictures courtesy of Bryan Adams)

Read more about the photographs here.

February 3, 2014

Hawaii Democrat Introduces Bill to Help Gay Vets

A Hawaii Democrat introduced on Thursday new legislation in the U.S. Senate that would ensure gay veterans discharged because of their sexual orientation have the designation of “honorable” discharge on their records.
The bill, known as the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, would apply to gay veterans who were in service prior to the lifting of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2011, when the U.S. military expelled troops for being openly gay.
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), the chief sponsor, said “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal was “a watershed moment,” but his bill would address remaining issues for the estimated 114,000 service members expelled because of their sexual orientation since World War II.
“Yet thousands of former service members still bear the scars of that discrimination, with their military records tarnished with discharges other than honorable and marks on their records that compromise their right to privacy,” Schatz said. “Many of these brave men and women that served our country are currently barred from benefits that they earned and are entitled to, and in the most egregious cases they are prevented from legally calling themselves a veteran. This needs to be corrected now.”
Although many service members were given an “honorable” discharge from the military if they were expelled because of their sexual orientation, others were given “other than honorable,” “general discharge” or “dishonorable” discharge.
As a consequence, these former troops may be disqualified from accessing certain benefits, such as GI bill tuition assistance and veterans’ health care, and may not be able to claim veteran status. In some cases, they may be prevented from voting or have difficulty acquiring civilian employment.
Even troops who received “honorable” discharges may have difficulties in the aftermath of their service because their sexual orientation may be identified as the reason for the discharge.
Although an administrative process already exists for service members to change their records, the proposed legislation would streamline the process to ensure these designations don’t impair former members of the armed forces.
Joining Schatz in introducing the legislation is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who said allowing service members to change their discharges if they were expelled because of their sexual orientation demands immediate attention.
“A clean, honorable record is long overdue for veterans who were discharged solely because of who they love,” Gillibrand said. “Our veterans served our country courageously and with dignity and we must act to give them the appropriate recognition they deserve.”
The legislation has 17 co-sponsors — all Democrats. They are Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Gillibrand, Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Denny Meyer, national public affairs officer for the LGBT group known as American Veterans for Equal Rights, said her organization supports the bill.
“LGBT veterans who served and sacrificed in silence during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as those who served before and during ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ in the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan, deserve to see their service recognized and honored at long last,” Meyer said. “We endorse and support the efforts by Senators Schatz and Gillibrand and Congressmen Pocan and Rangel to move forward the Restoring Honor to Our Service Members Act, which will accelerate discharge upgrades.”
In joint statement, gay Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), who are taking the lead on the legislation in the House, commended the senators for introducing the Senate companion.
“This bill would close the book on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and provide tens of thousands of gay veterans, who selflessly risked their lives for our nation,” Pocan and Rangel said. “Our bill already has the support of more than 140 House members, and we look forward to working with Senators Schatz and Gillibrand to ensure it can pass Congress and get to the President’s desk.”
Upon the introduction of the bill in July 2013, Rangel said during a conference call with Pocan he wants the White House and the Pentagon to support the legislation.
“We’re hoping we get this involved in the Department of Defense,” Rangel said at the time. “We hope, too — we haven’t talked about it, Mark — but there’s no question we’re looking to get White House support as well.”
Seven months later at the time of Senate introduction, the White House still hasn’t spoken out. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment on the bill.

November 11, 2013

The Military Reaches Out to Gay Vets through Veteran Affairs


The federal government is reaching out around the nation to gay and lesbian military veterans - most of whom had to spend their military careers in the closet - in its most concerted effort yet to let them know its doors are open to them.
Under a pilot program that began Oct. 1 in six metropolitan areas, including the Bay Area, the Department of Veterans Affairs has dispatched teams of psychologists to community meetings and brought in trainers to work with VA employees. The training deals with everything from how to appropriately ask about relationship status to being more alert about detecting post-traumatic stress caused by antigay discrimination.
The goal, said VA psychologist Stephen Rao, who is helping to oversee the effort in San Francisco, is to "really branch out to the LGBT community, to let them know we are a safe place for them."
So far, Rao's team has run information tables at a half-dozen events in the city and conducted a number of sensitivity seminars for VA staff.
"We're getting several new clients a week coming in, and we anticipate that will really grow in the coming months," Rao said. "The VA is blazing a trail. ... We are all very excited about this."
A starvation-thin, middle-aged gay Army veteran who went only by George notched himself a little place in military history last month in San Francisco because of the outreach program, without even knowing it.
At the nation's first Project Homeless Connect event held specifically for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, George gingerly approached a table at the LGBT Community Center marked "Veterans Services" and asked, "Are you for real?"
Rao's answer was a welcoming laugh.
"I mean, really, it wasn't that long ago you guys threw us out for being gay, right?" George pressed on.
"Yes, we're real, and no, we weren't throwing people out of veteran hospitals for being gay," Rao explained. Then he held out a brochure of VA medical services - and with that, George became the first homeless gay man to be drawn in by the new outreach effort.
San Francisco's VA operations already had well-established open-door policies toward LGBT people before the national effort began. But even here - as George's query demonstrated - some people can still use some convincing.
It's all part of a new era for all things military, gay and lesbian in the United States.
Just two years ago, the military was tossing people out for being gay or lesbian. Transgender people are still barred from the services, but all other sexual orientations became accepted with the end of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in 2011 - and the transformation has constituted a rapid deployment of sensitivity.
Now there are public support organizations such as OutServe-SLDN for gays and lesbians who are still in the military, and dozens of veterans have had dishonorable discharges changed to honorable. The VA, being a separate department from the active forces, hasn't barred gays and lesbians from receiving care for many years, but the repeal of the ban on gays in the services has prompted it to expand its outreach.
The VA maintains a national crisis phone line for gay and lesbian veterans and a website offering advice on specialized care, including a section detailing benefits that is titled, "I am a Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual Veteran." Over the past two years it also began offering hormone therapy and specialized counseling for transgender people, despite their continued exclusion from the military.
In September, President Obama ordered the VA to give same-sex spouses of veterans the same access to federal benefits as straight spouses - an outgrowth of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. 
The VA estimates that about 1 million of the nation's 21 million veterans are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Considering that theVeterans Health Administration runs the biggest integrated health system in the world, "it is likely the largest single provider of health care for sexual and gender minority individuals in the United States," the agency's LGBT program coordinator, Jillian Shipherd, wrote in a June issue of the research journal LGBT Health.
"It's incredibly important that we get the word out that veterans are welcome at the VA no matter what their sexual identity is," Shipherd said in an interview. "We have always provided good care for LGBT veterans, but we are now formalizing our policies and procedures in ways we haven't before."
Discrimination is at the root of many of the problems specific to gay and lesbian veterans, Shipherd and Rao said. VA research shows that the strain from being stigmatized and the target of bigoted hostility can produce higher rates of smoking, alcohol and drug abuse in LGBT vets, as well as a greater risk of anxiety and depression.
"A lot of the LGBT patients I see have experienced severe post-traumatic stress disorder because of discrimination, and how one makes sense of that kind of PTSD is different from having had a mortar explode next to you," Shipherd said. "You need to be sensitive to that as a provider."
LGBT vets also are at greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and some cancers.

Putting people at ease

Putting a patient at ease while handling these challenges can involve anything from being extra-vigilant for certain conditions to simply not asking veterans if they have a "husband or wife."
"We tell people to instead ask in gender-neutral ways, such as asking if they have a partner," Rao said. "You want them to know you are sensitive to various kinds of relationships."
In addition to the Bay Area, the VA is making its push in Boston, Honolulu, Houston, Milwaukee and New Haven County, Conn. Next year, it will be extended to Chicago and San Diego.
For LGBT vets still barely used to the idea that their lifestyle is not conduct unbecoming, this new VA push is like fresh wind.
"It's tremendous," said John Caldera, 59, who kept his orientation secret enough to be honorably discharged as a Navy corpsman in 1987. "The most famous quote by Harvey Milk was, 'You gotta give 'em hope,' and this gives our vets more hope than ever."
He said that with society becoming more accepting of LGBT people, the VA should have an easier time connecting with younger vets.
"Bigotry, to some extent, is generational, and there were more good ol' boys in my generation than in this one," said Caldera, who serves on the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Commission. "I'd say the next big step for the military and even for vets is to reach out and include the transgender community.
“We've still got a long way to go."
 Kevin Fagan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail:

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