Military-Missions Volunteers Set July 4th Goal

If you’re a member of Facebook – the volunteer organization Military-Missions based in Lexington, Kentucky is working on a goal to get 2,500 “Likes” prior to July 4th.

Here’s a photo posted as incentive to get folks to hit the “Like” button:

Photo courtesy of Military-Missions Facebook page.

 

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Mental Health Advocates Call for Change in Military Culture

A NAMI rally in Seattle on Thursday when the “Parity for Patriots” report was released. Photo courtesy of NAMI Facebook.

One in five active duty military personnel have experienced symptoms of depression, PTSD or another mental health condition according to an advocacy group’s new report, Parity for Patriots: The Mental Health Needs of Military Personnel, Veterans and their Families.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, also known as NAMI, is advocating for the military to recognize psychological wounds such as post traumatic stress disorder with a Purple Heart, the medal given for receiving a combat wound.

The organization’s report also calls for:

  • Accountability at all command levels for suicide prevention
  • Eliminating the stigma associated with seeking mental health care
  • Increasing service capacity within the VA system
  • Fully implementing the 2008 mental health insurance parity law
  • Americans to “reach out, listen and care” to help veterans in need

You can read the full “Parity for Patriots” report HERE.

Lying About Military Honors Ruled as Free Speech

Health care wasn’t the only decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday. The high court also ruled as unconstitutional a law that made falsifying claims about one’s military decorations and service a crime.

Known as the “Stolen Valor Act” – it was passed in 2005 and Xavier Alvarez was charged under the law in 2007 when he lied about being a Medal of Honor recipient when serving as a member of a California water board. Howard Altman with the Tampa Tribune reports:

The Stolen Valor law is fatally flawed, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

“Statutes suppressing or restricting speech must be judged by the sometimes inconvenient principles of the First Amendment,” Kennedy wrote.

Some lawmakers are already vowing to find another way to deter individuals from lying about military service and honors according to a report in the LA Times.

Marie Tillman Shares Her “Just in Case” Letter

Marie and Pat Tillman – an undated family photo. Photo courtesy of Marie Tillman.

My thanks to for her lovely post on Spouse Buzz explaining the “Just in Case” letter that many military members write prior to deploying.

The blog post highlights the “Just in Case” letter that Marie Tillman shared in her new book, The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss, & Life:

  • Just in case I don’t come back I want the money used to put the boys through college.
  • Just in case I don’t come back I want you to know that I was fighting for my country: my country is you and our babies and my mom and my sisters.
  • Just in case I don’t come back I want you to know that you were everything a wife was supposed to be. That you made my life happy. That even though we didn’t have 50 years together, the five we did have were the fullest, richest years anyone could ever want.
Marie shares in her book that her “Just in Case” letter from Pat Tillman is what has brought her the most comfort since his death. It takes bravery to write such a letter, but Marie Tillman offers some help. On her website www.justincaseletter.com she provides tips about how to write that kind of letter.

Military Dog Picture of the Week and Afghanistan Video

Sgt. Anouska, a Tactical Explosive Detection Dog, has just found detonation cord under a T-wall and now stands at attention to let his handler know that he has found some explosives. This was a demonstration showcasing different types of military dogs and their capabilities at International Security Assistance Force Regional Command-South headquarters on Kandahar Air Field.
(Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jimmie Crockett)

Thanks to the generosity and dedication of fellow blogger Kevin Hanrahan – you get a glimpse of the ongoing work and life of military dogs and their trainers.

Kevin posted the photo above of Sgt. Anouska on June 20, 2012. I’m late sharing it, but couldn’t pass it up. The working military dog is so attentive – so intense – reminds me of the focus a new recruit learns in boot camp.

Well done Sgt. Anouska.

Kevin also featured this video from Afghanistan that he described as:  ctually footage of  Working Dog Diego “sniffing it” Khandahar style:

Suicide Is Not an Isolated Event and It’s Preventable

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta addresses the audience at the fourth annual DoD/VA Suicide Prevention Conference June 22, 2012 in Washington, D.C. (DoD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

Clinical psychologist David Barry, a lieutenant commander with  U.S. Public Health Service, summarized the Department of Defense and VA Suicide Prevention Conference:

“Throughout the conference, speakers emphasized the point that suicide isn’t an isolated event, and it’s preventable.”

Barry writes about the progress he witnessed at the annual conference and notes the support from leadership.

  • Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called for pioneering and breaking “new ground in understanding the human mind and human emotion”
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius spoke of removing “any distinction between behavioral and mental health”
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs EricShinseki called to target and prevent substance abuse as a means to prevent suicide and veteran homelessness.

You can learn more about the Defense Centers of Excellence programs aimed at preventing suicide HERE.

FBI Tracking 100 Suspected Extremists in the Military

The FBI is investigating more than 100 suspected Muslim extremists who are part of the U.S. military community, officials tell NPR. U.S. authorities have increased scrutiny since the 2009 shooting attack at Fort Hood, Texas, that left 13 dead. Maj. Nidal Hasan, charged with the killings, is shown here in an April 2010 court hearing. Photo courtesy Handout/Getty Images

The suspected extremists are called “insider threats” and include not only active duty and reservists but also individuals who have access to military bases like contractors and family members with dependents ID cards, according to a report by National Public Radio.

The FBI has conducted more than 100 investigations into suspected Islamic extremists within the military, NPR has learned. About a dozen of those cases are considered serious.

Officials define that as a case requiring a formal investigation to gather information against suspects who appear to have demonstrated a strong intent to attack military targets. This is the first time the figures have been publicly disclosed.

The information was disclosed in a closed house-senate hearing in December. NPR confirmed the number from three independent sources, but the FBI would not confirm the number of cases.

…but they did say that cases seen as serious could include, among others things, suspects who seem to be planning an attack or were in touch with “dangerous individuals” who were goading them to attack.

 

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