PTSD Service Dog Study Suspended by Tampa VA

Image courtesy of the VA Research on PTSD.

Citing problems with the vendor who provided the service dogs, Tampa’s James A. Haley Veterans Hospital  has suspended – for a second time – a study looking  if service dogs help lessen PTSD symptoms in veterans according to The Atlantic.

The latest setback left about 100 veterans on the study’s waiting list without any hope that they’d receive a dog in the near future. It also raised the thorny question of how to conduct research in a field that is new, but where the need is urgent.

This was the VA’s first study of PTSD service dogs that are traditionally used for veterans who are blind or have other disabilities. Reportedly, the study that is looking for scientific datawill resume in 10 months after it’s been redesigned and opened up nationally to dog trainers.

The revised study will focus on an improved training framework and guidelines for pairing dogs with patients. You can read the full Atlantic article HERE.

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Adaptive Water Ski Expo Features Tampa Bay Veterans

Photo courtesy of Adaptive Adventures which offers military clinics to reacquaint warriors with sports such as adaptive water skiing.

The waters of Lake Seminole will be churning Sunday as local disabled veterans strap on their skis to participate in an Adaptive Water Ski Expo.

The all-day event is set to start at 8 a.m. and run through 4 p.m. at Lake Seminole Park, 10015 Park Blvd., Seminole, Florida.

Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Hospital and a ski club for people with disabilities, UCANSKI2, are sponsoring the event as a lead up to hosting next year’s National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

The community is invited to watch the skiing expo. If you can’t make Sunday’s event, below is a video from the Veterans Adaptive Water Ski Event on Seminole Lake in 2011.

Pinellas SCORE Sponsors Free Veterans Business Expo

Jane is part of the cleaning crew trained by Julie McAdoo, co-owner of Refresh Your Nest Cleaning Services.

Unemployment among Post-9/11 veterans is 10.9 percent nationally — much higher than then national average.  That has inspired a group of retired local executives to offer veterans free help to start their own businesses.

The volunteer organization, Pinellas SCORE, is holding a free Veterans Business Expo Oct. 6, 2012 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Marriott Clearwater, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd. in Florida.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at the door.  It’s open to any veteran, active-duty military and spouses who are interested in starting their own company or have an business idea they want to explore. Continue reading

10 Signs a Veteran May Be in Crisis – Suicide Prevention

Even as a civilian, you can still be of help preventing suicide by learning the signs a loved one or friend may be in crisis or at risk of taking their life.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline advises that many Veterans may not show any signs of intent to harm themselves before doing so, but you can be alert to signs that the Veteran may need help. Be aware of signs of depression, anxiety and hopelessness as well as dramatic changes in behavior.

Signs of a Veteran in Crisis Continue reading

6 Suicide Trends That Trouble Army Officials

This photo is courtesy of the Graham family. Second Lt. Jeffrey Graham, left, and ROTC cadet Kevin Graham, right, were the sons of Maj. Gen. Mark Graham and his wife Carol. The brothers died within months of each other. Jeffrey fell in combat and Kevin took his own life. Their parents use this image when they speak publicly about suicide prevention. A link to the Graham family story is below.

The Army is on a service-wide standdown today to focus on suicide prevention.

“Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army,” Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd Austin III told the Army Times.

Six troubling trends

• More soldiers are dying by suicide than in combat.

• The service is on track to reach its highest suicide rate yet — 29 suicides per 100,000 soldiers per year, more than three times the rate in 2004 and a more than a 25 percent increase from last year.

• More noncommissioned officers and soldiers with multiple deployments are committing suicide.

• Some soldiers are falling through the cracks. A Defense Department study showed 45 percent of service members who died by suicide were seen by military health care professionals in the 30 days before their deaths.

• Despite efforts by the Army, soldiers still worry about the stigma attached to seeking help.

• 75 percent of those who attempted suicide were seen somewhere in the outpatient health care system within 30 days before their suicide attempt.

Retired Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, the former G-3 for Forces Command and former commanding general of 4th Infantry Division, lost one son to an IED another to suicide. He speaks out about his loss.

You can read more on the Army Times Special Report: Losing the War on Suicide.

If you need help or know someone who is at risk, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.

Army Brigadier General Faces Sexual Assault Charges

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair

An Army brigadier general who served five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan has been charged with forcible sodomy, multiple counts of adultery and having inappropriate relationships with several female subordinates, two U.S. defense officials told the Associated Press Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces possible courts martial. Sinclair served as deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan. He was sent home in May because of the allegations, according to officials who AP agreed to not name.

In a brief press conference at Fort Bragg today, spokesman Col. Kevin Arata read a prepared statement and refused to take any questions.

Sinclair, a trained paratrooper who has been in the Army for 27 years, was serving his third deployment to Afghanistan. He had also served two tours in Iraq, as well as a tour in the first Gulf war.

The AP reports that it’s rare for an Army general to face court martial. There have been only two cases in recent years. One for wearing unauthorized awards or ribbons and making a false statement. The other was for making a false statement connected to adultery.

Afghanistan War Questioned in Congress and Bagram

Cong. Bill Young greets veterans From previous wars returning from an Honor Flight to visit memorials in Washington D.C. on Sept. 18, 2012. Photo courtesy of Bill Young’s Office.

Congressman Bill Young, a Republican who has represented Pinellas County Florida for 42 years, publicly said last week that the U.S. should pull out of Afghanistan.

As chairman of the Defense Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations, Young’s 180 degree shift on the war got noticed.

Young’s change of mind on the Afghanistan War, now more than 10 years old, was reported in his local newspaper, The Tampa Bay Times.

“I think we should remove ourselves from Afghanistan as quickly as we can,” Young, R-Indian Shores, said during a meeting with the Times editorial board Monday. “I just think we’re killing kids that don’t need to die.”

Now, it’s in Time Magazine.

Young’s change of heart is due to a message from one of his constituents, a Staff Sergeant Matthew Sitton. The email was sent to Young in June. Sitton and 1st Sgt. Russell R. Bell of Tyler, Texas, were killed by an IED blast on August 2, 2012. Continue reading

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