Vietnam MIA Navy Crew to be Buried Together

Vietnam War Memorial courtesy of bigreadblog.arts.gov

Vietnam War Memorial courtesy of bigreadblog.arts.gov

On July 19, 1967, the four servicemen took off from the USS Hornet aboard an SH-3A Sea King helicopter, on a search and rescue mission looking for a downed pilot in Ha Nam Province, North Vietnam according to a Department of Defense release.

During the mission, the helicopter was hit anti-aircraft gunfire, causing the aircraft to lose control, catch fire and crash, killing all four servicemen.

The Crew

Navy Lt. Dennis W. Peterson of Huntington Park, Calif., was the pilot of a SH-3A helicopter.  Peterson was accounted for on March 30, 2012.  Also, aboard the aircraft was Ensign Donald P. Frye of Los Angeles, Calif.; Aviation Antisubmarine Warfare Technicians William B. Jackson of Stockdale, Texas; and Donald P. McGrane of Waverly, Iowa. 

The crew will be buried, as a group, on May 2, 2013, Thursday, at Arlington National Cemetery.  

Solving the MIA Mystery

Finding and identifying their remains reads somewhat like a mystery according to the DoD news release.

  • In October 1982, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (S.R.V.) repatriated five boxes of remains to U.S. officials.  In 2009, the remains within the boxes were identified as Frye, Jackson, and McGrane.
  • In 1993, a joint U.S./S.R.V. team, investigated a loss in Ha Nam Province.  The team interviewed local villagers who identified possible burial sites linked to the loss.  One local claimed to have buried two of the crewmen near the wreckage, but indicated that both graves had subsequently been exhumed.  
  • Between 1994 and 2000, three joint U.S./S.R.V. teams excavated the previous site and recovered human remains and aircraft wreckage that correlated to the crew’s SH-3A helicopter.  In 2000, U.S. personnel excavated the crash site recovering additional remains.  Analysis from the Joint POW/MIA Command Central Identification Laboratory subsequently designated these additional remains as the co-mingled remains of all four crewmen, including Peterson. 

Defense Department scientists used forensics and circumstantial evidence to identify the missing crew’s remains.

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Women Veterans: A VA Hotline Just for You

From a previous Operation Stand Down.

From a previous Operation Stand Down.

The numbers tell it all – why the VA felt there was a need to establish a dedicated hotline for women veterans: 1-855-829-6636 (VA-WOMEN).

In the past decade, the population of women veterans has more than doubled from 160,000 to 360,000. That number is expected to double again by 2022.

Women make up 15 percent of the active duty military and 18 percent of the Guard and Reserves.

Yet, women veterans are less likely to use VA health care. Currently, women make up only 6 percent of the VA total patient population.

A VA survey found the main reason for  the lack of use by women vets was their lack of knowledge about their VA benefits and services.

So the VA has established a hotline where women veterans, their families and caregivers can get answers about available resources and services.

Courtesy North Florida VA.

Courtesy North Florida VA.

“All our telephone agents have received training regarding services that the VA provides for women Veterans,” Krista Stephenson, an Army Veteran and current Women Veterans Call Center Director, stated in a press release. “They are informed about eligibility, benefits, health care and other services, and can route calls within VA when needed”

 

The single number also handles calls regarding crisis situations like sexual trauma, homelessness, domestic violence and suicidal behavior.

“We also have established agreements for warm handoffs to VA programs such as the Veterans Crisis Line and the Caregiver Support Line,” Stephenson stated. “We are also working collaboratively with other VA Departments for those Veterans who have questions regarding VA benefits and health eligibility.”

The Call Center also follow-ups within 30 days on any calls transferred to the VA to ensure that women Veterans received the services they needed.

An Army Career of 46 Years, 4 Days Ends in Tampa

U.S. Army Col. Warner Farr, Command Surgeon, U.S. Special Operations Command, speaks during Col. Charles "Dahl" Farr's room dedication ceremony, at Hurlburt Field Fla., Aug 16, 2010. (DoD Photo by U.S. Air Force Airman Caitlin O'Neil-McKeown/Released)

U.S. Army Col. Warner Farr, Command Surgeon, U.S. Special Operations Command, speaks during Col. Charles “Dahl” Farr’s room dedication ceremony, at Hurlburt Field Fla., Aug 16, 2010. (DoD Photo by U.S. Air Force Airman Caitlin O’Neil-McKeown/Released)

After a career spanning 46 years and four days, Army Col. Warner “Rocky” Farr retired today, April 25, 2013.

His military experience started as a Green Beret in the jungles of Vietnam ended as the command surgeon of U.S. Special Operations Command Central at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

Farr, retiring at age 64, is “the third-longest serving soldier in the Army and one of only 13 of more than a half-million on active duty who served in Vietnam” according to the Tampa Tribune.

Reporter Howard Altman wrote a comprehensive profile about this accomplished military man. I encourage you to read it.

Congratulations to Col. Farr and his family because we all know that in the military, it’s the whole family that serves and may they all enjoy a retirement well earned.

 

Marine Sergeant to Throw Out First Pitch Rays vs. Yankees

Siller (back) and Nicholson give news media a demo before tonight's big pitch. Photo credit Yoselis Ramos.

George Siller (back) and Mike Nicholson (front) give news reporters a demo before tonight’s big pitch. Photo by Yoselis Ramos.

By Yoselis Ramos

At the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees game Monday night, triple amputee Sergeant Mike Nicholson will throw the first pitch from his wheelchair.

Nicholson, 23, was injured by an improvised explosive device – or IED- attack in Afghanistan in 2011. He lost both legs and his left arm and is medically discharged from the Marines.

Nicholson said even though he wrote with his left hand, he always threw with his right. So, he believes he’ll do just fine throwing to home plate.

“I plan on throwing it to the catcher,” he laughed. “That’s my goal right there, getting it to the catcher and make it look good.”

The Tampa Bay Rays along with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation are helping to sponsor Nicholson’s new “smart” home.

That home will have accommodations like ramps, automated lighting, and roll-in bathrooms to help Nicholson be more independent.

Nicholson plays catch and practices his first pitch prior to the Rays vs. Yankees game. Photo by Yoselis Ramos.

Nicholson plays catch and practices his first pitch prior to the Rays vs. Yankees game. Photo by Yoselis Ramos.

George Siller is vice chairman of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation which was started after the 9/11 attacks. Siller practiced throwing the ball with Nicholson before tonight’s big pitch.

“It brings us joy to see him have a full life as he can have. He gave so much for our country and we want to give back what we can,” Siller said.

The two foundations are also sponsoring the Lieutenant Dan Band benefit concert on May 10th  at the Curtis Hixon Park. The proceeds will go towards Nicholson’s new home in South Tampa.

5 Things Successful Homeless Vets Programs Do

 

The 2010 Homeless Stand Down was held September 18, 2010 at the National Guard Armory in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. The Stand Down is an annual event designed with the Homeless Veteran in mind. Courtesy Miami VA.gov

The 2010 Homeless Stand Down was held September 18, 2010 at the National Guard Armory in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. The Stand Down is an annual event designed with the Homeless Veteran in mind. Courtesy Miami VA.gov

Florida is one of the top “hot spots” for homeless veterans making it the focus of VA officials who have the stated goal of ending veteran homelessness by December 2015. The others are Texas, California and New York.

With less than two years to accomplish that Herculean task of ending veterans homelessness, more than 60 advocates, experts and service providers met in Tampa this week to share details about programs with a record of successfully moving  veterans into permanent housing.

The most recent census estimates there are still 5,300 homeless veterans in Florida about 17 percent of the national population of almost 31,000. Women make up about 9 percent of the total veterans homeless population.

Lisa Pape, the national director of Homeless Programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, had staff at the Tampa “Rapid Results Housing Boot Camp” earlier this week.

Courtesy of VA.gov.

Courtesy of VA.gov.

“Florida is doing a good job, but they have a ways to go,” Pape said in a telephone interview from Washington D.C.

She said Florida is still working to connect all of the state, local and federal agencies that provide services to homeless veterans. But by far, the state’s largest challenge is providing affordable permanent housing.

The technique, Housing First, Pape said is the most effective program so far. The veteran is given housing and then the services are wrapped around the veteran’s needs.

The top five characteristics of a successful homeless veterans program:

  1. Partner  with every agency that has anything to do with veterans and homelessness from local, state and federal levels as well as non-governmental agencies. 
  2. Connect with the local offices of the U.S. departments of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and Labor.
  3. Provide supportive services for the veterans like avenues to employment and mental health.
  4.   Make available, affordable permanent housing giving the veteran a place of their own.
  5. Provide services for family members of the veteran.

The Tampa boot camp offered three days of training to people already working with homeless veterans showing them more efficient and effective ways to house and provide services. Participants came from three cities in Texas as well as Miami, Sarasota, Bay Pines and Tampa.

You can listen to Lisa Pape’s interview HERE.

PTSD: Do Men and Women React Differently?

Courtesy VA.gov

Courtesy VA.gov

A study of 18 men and 13 women who had been diagnosed with PTSD showed researchers that the genders react differently to fear.

A staff psychologist at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco conducted the study that was published in the October 2012 issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

Women vs. Men

The study showed women responded more strongly to visual cues than men when they saw a particular image that they knew was going to be followed by an electric shock.

Researchers say it suggests that women can be  conditioned more robustly than men.
PTSD Gender Rates

Mental health experts say women in the general population are twice as likely than men to develop post traumatic stress disorder. Yet, the rate of PTSD was the same among men and women recently seeking treatment at the VA.

As with most research, it created more questions than answers. Researchers don’t know what drives the gender differences in fear conditioning and if there are biological differences  in the fear responses of men and women.

You can read more about the PTSD Gender study HERE.

among recent returnees seeking care at VA, PTSD rates among men and women are the same. Statistics such as these suggest the need to better understand the role of gender in PTSD, particularly as it may impact our Veterans seeking care.” – See more at: http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/2013/April/PTSD-Study-Men-Versus-Women.asp#sthash.7qpEcaVJ.dpuf
among recent returnees seeking care at VA, PTSD rates among men and women are the same. Statistics such as these suggest the need to better understand the role of gender in PTSD, particularly as it may impact our Veterans seeking care.” – See more at: http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/2013/April/PTSD-Study-Men-Versus-Women.asp#sthash.7qpEcaVJ.dpuf

Watch as Maryland Fast-Tracks Licensing for Military

The First Lady and Dr. Biden attend a Joining Forces nurses event at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 11, 2012. Courtesy Joining Forces website.

The First Lady and Dr. Biden attend a Joining Forces nurses event at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 11, 2012. Courtesy Joining Forces website.

You can watch LIVE today (April 17, 2013)  at 1:45 p.m. as Maryland’s governor signs a law that makes it easier for military service members, veterans and their spouses obtain state credentials and licenses.

Qualifying for state professional licenses and credentials from teaching certificates to real estate licenses in each of the 50 states is a common problem for active duty military and their families who have to move (PCS-Permanent Change of Station) every few years.

But the Joining Forces initiative, by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden challenged the nation’s governors to pass laws streamlining the licenses and credentials process for military families in all states by 2015.

During the LIVE EVENT, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will sign the state’s Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013.

Maryland’s Veterans Full Employment Act of 2013 sets a national standard for state legislation, streamlining the ability for service members, veterans, and their spouses to obtain more than 70 civilian credentials and licenses, allowing them to readily transfer their military training, experience and skills into civilian certification and licenses and academic degrees or certifications.

According to the White House news release, 12 states have answered the First Lady’s call and passed legislation that fast tracks the ability for service members, veterans and their spouses to earn civilian credentials and licenses.

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