2012 in review: Stories for Veterans and Military Families

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 170,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 3 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

Tammy Duckworth Named as One to Shake Up Congress

Tammy Duckworth arriving for her speech at University of South Florida Oct 12, 2010.

Tammy Duckworth arriving for her speech at University of South Florida Oct 12, 2010.

An news article by US News names former assistant secretary at the VA and Iraq combat veteran Tammy Duckworth as one of seven new members expected to shake up Congress.

Illinois Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth – One of the first female Black Hawk helicopter pilots to fly combat missions, Duckworth survived a 2004 rocket-propelled grenade attack. She lost both legs and part of her right arm, but managed to safely land her helicopter before attending to her injuries.

Duckworth competed in one of the most bitter races in 2012, against Tea Party incumbent Republican Joe Walsh. Duckworth proved herself as a hefty fundraiser, outspending her opponent by more than $3 million.

Continue reading

Bill McBride Proved His Leadership as a Marine in Vietnam

Photo credit: Barnett, Bolt, Kirkwood, Long & McBride law firm

Photo credit: Barnett, Bolt, Kirkwood, Long & McBride law firm

Bill McBride volunteered for the Marine Corps and Vietnam in 1968 – which defined his character and life.

Tampa attorney McBride died Saturday while spending the holidays in North Carolina. He is being memorialized by family, friends and colleagues at a Tampa service Dec. 28, 2012.

McBride was a loving father and husband and will be remembered for the strides he made as a former managing partner of Holland & Knight and more recently as senior partner of the law firm of Barnett, Bolt, Kirkwood, Long & McBride.

As a novice political candidate, McBride also will be remembered for his relentless spirit yet unsuccessful campaign against incumbent Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

It was during that 2002 campaign that a fellow Marine and Vietnam veteran Ralph Quallen, nicknamed Heavy, came to Florida on his own to campaign for McBride.

A Marine’s Loyalty and Leadership Continue reading

Reactions to the Death of Retired Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf

(George H.W. Bush riding in a Humvee with Gene...

(George H.W. Bush riding in a Humvee with General Schwarzkopf in Saudi Arabia, November 22, 1990) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Former President H. W. Bush

Barbara and I mourn the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation. A distinguished member of that ‘Long Gray Line’ hailing from West Point, Gen. Norm Schwarzkopf, to me, epitomized the ‘duty, service, country’ creed that has defended our freedom and seen this great nation through our most trying international crises. More than that, he was a good and decent man – and a dear friend. Barbara and I send our condolences to his wife, Brenda, and his wonderful family.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Continue reading

Desert Storm Commander Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf Dies

Photo credit: Navy Live

Photo credit: Navy Live

His nickname was “Stormin’ Norman” reportedly for his quick temper, but retired Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf was also remembered for his swift victory in the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm.

Norman’s last post was as head of U.S. Central Command at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base. He retired in the community. The Associated Press reports that Norman died Thursday in Tampa at age 78.

From the blog post by USS Nicholas (FFG 47) Commanding Officer Cmdr. Stephen Fuller who shares his thoughts about the Battle of Ad-Dawrah a quote from Gen. Schwarzkopf. Continue reading

VA Backlog of Benefits Claims Got Worse in 2012

VA-logo2Making it easier for veterans to apply for benefits and disability for traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and agent orange exposure served to swell the backlog of VA benefits claims in 2012.

The VA has processed about 1 million claims a year, but more than 1 million new ones keep coming in reported Quil Lawrence of NPR.

Hundreds of thousands of veterans who suffered injuries while serving in the military must wait many months for care and compensation. Slightly more than 863,000 people had pending compensation claims with the VA in December, according to a Dec. 17 report.

A Backlog Worsens

At the start of 2012, the department promised to cut into that big backlog of claims. But over the course of the year, that backlog has gotten worse, not better.

Continue reading

Daniel Inouye: Courage on the Battlefield and in Congress

Photo credit: Sen. Daniel Inouye bio page

Photo credit: Sen. Daniel Inouye bio page

I have been remiss not marking the passing of another WWII Veteran, U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye.

He fought both on the WWII battlefield being awarded the Medal of Honor and in the halls of Congress earning voters’ continued approval since he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962.

Of all the comments memorializing the long-serving senator, one of the most heartfelt came from Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki:

“Senator Daniel K. Inouye stood among the ‘greatest’ of our ‘Greatest Generation.’  Recipient of the Medal of Honor, our Nation’s highest award for valor; distinguished service as a long-serving member of the U.S. Senate; and role model to generations of Americans of Asian-Pacific Islander heritage, especially those growing up in his beloved Hawai’i, Senator Inouye made public service a noble and honorable calling.

Dan Inouye’s courage on the battlefield and in Congress, his passion for making a difference in the lives of average Americans, and his intense modesty spoke volumes about a remarkable American, who embodied the bedrock values and quiet virtues of our Nation.

On behalf of America’s 22 million Veterans, I salute the memory of a brave man, a great patriot, a devoted public servant, an unwavering benefactor to Servicemembers and Veterans of every generation, and my friend and mentor.  I extend my deepest personal condolences to the entire Inouye family.”

Charles Durning: How the Military Shaped His Life

English: American actor Charles Durning on May...

English: American actor Charles Durning on May 25, 2008 at the 2008 National Memorial Day Concert in Washington D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will always remember Charles Durning for his role as Ernie Yost in an NCIS episode where he portrayed a WWII veteran and Medal of Honor recipient. The role earned Durning an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series 2005.

Druning died Monday at age 89. In “real life” he was a WWII veteran who served with distinction according to the LA Times.

… Durning was in the first wave of soldiers to land on Omaha Beach during the D-Day Normandy invasion in 1944. He was taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge and reportedly was one of the few survivors of the massacre of American POWs at Malmedy, Belgium.

For his service, he was awarded three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star.

Continue reading

12 Days of Christmas Lyrics by Military-Missions

Photo credit: Jackie Dorr

Photo credit: Jackie Dorr

The volunteer group, Military Missions Inc., has a Facebook challenge. It’s seeking suggestions to revise the lyrics of the 12 Days of Christmas.

The Facebook page is up to Day 10, but changes to the previous suggestions are welcomed too.

The reworded lyrics so far: On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me… Continue reading

Tips for Managing PTSD and Enjoying the Holidays

Photo courtesy of the VA.

Photo courtesy of the VA.

The heightened stress that comes with the holidays can be a challenge for combat veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and their families. Dr. James Bender, a clinical psychologist with the Defense Centers of Excellence, compiled some suggestions.

Bright lights, loud noises and large crowds that come with the holidays can make holiday events troubling to someone with PTSD.

Crowds and Crowded Spaces

Christmas shopping can be difficult to manage for service members who patrolled while deployed. They may be overly alert and anxious in large crowds scanning for danger. Extreme anxiety around crowds is a symptom that can improve with treatment, but it takes time.

Alcohol

There’s nothing wrong with moderate drinking, but people with PTSD are at-risk for alcohol abuse and dependence. But alcohol interacts with a common class of PTSD medication called SSRIs, which can lead to impaired coordination, reaction time and judgment.

Social Withdrawal

Avoidance is a prominent symptom of PTSD. Social withdrawal symptoms can be managed with relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety and by taking a 5-10 minute “time out” during a party — a walk around the block or step outside for a breath of fresh air.

From a post by Dr. James Bender, DCoE clinical psychologist on December 13, 2012

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