Simple Kindness: Easy Ways to Repay Our Veterans for Their Service (July 31, 2019)

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(Image courtesy of Pexels)

Guest post by Kelli Brewer, DeployCare.org

Simple Kindness: Easy Ways to Repay Our Veterans for Their Service 

It can be very difficult for the average American, especially those with no military experience, to appreciate the mental, physical, and financial impact that years of military service can have. The situation comes into focus when you consider that there are more than 1.3 million men and women on active duty, with more than 800,000 in the country’s reserve forces.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, family problems, and lack of employment opportunities can place a huge obstacle in the way of returning service members who just want things to return to normal. Unfortunately, it’s often not that easy, especially for those who return with debilitating injuries. If you’re looking for a way to help out, here are a few ideas.

Say ‘Thank You’

The Vietnam War experience taught Americans that returning service members can be seriously affected by the nature of their return. If it’s critical or indifferent, veterans may feel unsupported and unappreciated. And while today’s military personnel typically don’t face the kind of harsh criticism that confronted Vietnam-era servicemen and servicewomen, they can still be powerfully impacted by a lack of support and understanding. If you want to help a veteran, acknowledge their service by shaking their hand or offering a sincere “Thank you.”

The Health Care They Need

Veterans, particularly seniors, need to understand how their health insurance works. For those enrolled in Medicare Part A or B, there are several out-of-pocket costs, and to complicate matters further, plans often change from year to year. Fortunately, you can enroll in a Medigap plan, which may provide more of the benefits you need. For example, Plan F covers the deductible that comes with Medicare Part B, though certain changes to this particular benefit will go into effect beginning in 2020. Knowing your coverage and understanding how Medicare functions is essential for getting the most out of your coverage.

Help Veterans Reintegrate Socially

A soldier who returns home without a job or without access to social services may feel lost and alone. Consider organizing an event for returning service members, perhaps schedule an evening at the movies, an informal dinner setting, or get together every week at a nearby coffee shop. Make it a venue where everyone can talk about their experiences, hopes, and frustrations.

If you have a relationship with a veteran, offer to help out in specific ways. For example, if your friend has trouble scheduling a medical or therapy appointment, reach out by offering to babysit or offer to give them a ride if they lack transportation. There are many ways to volunteer, just by making efforts of simple goodwill.

Finding Work

Veterans often find that the skills they learned in the military don’t translate well into steady employment once they’re discharged. That can be especially true of veterans who lack a degree or some form of higher education. If you’re a business owner or have access to human resources personnel at work, why not put in a good word for a veteran who’s having trouble latching on somewhere? Your company will earn tax credits for hiring veterans. Sometimes, a foot in the door is all a veteran needs to impress a prospective employer.

Be a Willing Listener

You don’t have to be close friends with a service member who just needs a sympathetic ear. Give a veteran an opportunity to share their experiences. You really don’t need to say much, just be present in the moment and listen without judging or criticizing. It’s a simple but important gesture because many have no one to talk to, no outlet for their frustrations and anxieties.

Simple gestures are sometimes the best way to help veterans, service members, and their families. Be willing to provide the kind of support and assistance you’d offer to anyone. It’ll make you feel great and it’s a great way to thank our military heroes for their service. 

A Month in Review: In the News on Military Justice for All (June 2018)

June 2018

Missing:
Disappeared: Stacy McCall, Suzie Streeter, and Sherrill Levitt are ‘The Springfield Three’ who Vanished from Levitt’s Missouri Home on June 7, 1992
Friends, family of missing UMass nursing student Maura Murray hope funds will lead to answers

Cold Cases:
Family wants justice for Army vet found shot to death in driveway
Authorities Have Cracked a Bizarre Cold Case That Could Have Ties to the Zodiac Killer
48 Hours Premiered ’48 Hours Cold Case: Who Killed Amy Gellert?’ on CBS (June 17, 2017)

Fugitives:
Reward Offered for Armed & Dangerous Fugitive: Army Recruiter John Blauvelt Wanted for Allegedly Murdering Estranged Wife in South Carolina (2017)

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Questionable Practices Continue at Fort Belvior Warrior Transition Battalion: One Delaware Army National Guard Soldier’s Story After Injured in the Line of Duty

National Guard

Guest Post Submitted by Jill Lee

I cannot in good conscience remain silent about the treatment of our wounded and injured service members and their families. I am writing this letter on behalf of my husband Sgt. Thomas Lee. He medically retired from the Delaware National Guard’s 153rd MP Company in August 21, 2016. He deployed to Afghanistan January to September 2013. Upon returning from deployment he was sent to the Wounded Transition Battalion (WTB) at Fort Belvoir, VA in October 2013 for neck, back, shoulder, skin and stomach issues. The time frame for service members to spend at the WTB is approximately 12 months; my husband was there for 3 years. When my husband arrived, there were around 300 service members there. Every service member is assigned a nurse case manager who oversees the scheduling of appointments and does weekly check-ins with them. The nurse case manager’s job is to support and facilitate the care of service members; however, often they are misleading and at times lying to get information which is used by the command against the service members. The WTB does not promote an atmosphere of healing but rather one of harassment and punishment, where they provide the bare minimum of care, distribute medications and focus on the symptoms rather than diagnose and treat the actual issues. The WTB along with Fort Belvoir Community Hospital has failed my husband along with countless other service members. Our service members and families sacrifice so much for our country and it is a shame to see how they get treated when they return from combat broken physically and mentally.

My husband and I lived through a nightmare for the past 3 years, he was fortunate enough to survive 2 deployments only to be permanently disabled by a military doctor here in the states. Do you know what it’s like to watch helplessly someone you love whose served their country go from injured to permanently damaged and not to be able to hold any one accountable? My husband came to the WTB with 2 careers, 21 years with the Postal Service and 18 years of military service, he left the WTB unable to return to either career. Below are the events that forever changed our lives.

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Fort Hood Army Pfc. Kai Yancey, Died After Complications From a Short Illness on New Year’s Day at Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Texas (2017)

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Pfc. Kai Yancey, US Army

Army Pfc. Kai Yancey, 26, died at Scott and White Hospital in Temple, Texas after complications from a short illness on January 1, 2017. Pfc. Yancey’s home of record was listed as El Paso, Texas; he entered active-duty military service in February 2015 as a motor transport operator. Pfc. Yancey was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood since 2016.

“He was a member of East Side Church of Christ, where he was a past member of the Youth Group and enjoyed watching movies, skate boarding, wrestling, boxing, water skiing, para-sailing and target shooting. He was a past member of the Warren Boxing Association, where he was the Undefeated Lightweight Champion and a 2009 graduate of Howland High School, where he excelled in wrestling. He married Janelle March 16, 2016.” –Obituary

Related Links:
Obituary: Pfc. Kai Yemale Yancey of Ft. Hood, Texas
Obituary: Kai Y. Yancey | Tribune Chronicle
Death of a Fort Hood Soldier – Pfc. Kai Yemale Yancey
Fallen Warriors | Pfc. Kai Yemale Yancey
Fort Hood soldier dies from illness
Fort Hood soldier who died from illness identified
Fort Hood Soldier Died of Complication from Illness, Officials Say
Fort Hood soldier dies from illness | KXXV
Fort Hood soldier dies from illness | WALB
Fort Hood soldier dies from illness | WTOC
Fort Hood soldier dies from illness
El Paso Soldier Stationed at Fort Hood Dies
El Paso soldier stationed at Fort Hood dies New Year’s Day
Howland High graduate dies from illness while serving in Texas
Greywolf remembers and honors the lives of Pfc. Kai Yancey and Pfc. Randal Anderson
Number of recent Fort Hood soldier deaths raises questions
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside
Violent Crime, Suicide, and Non Combat Death at Fort Hood, Texas (US Army)
73 Fort Hood Soldiers Died Since January 2016: 4 Insider Attacks & 2 Suicides Overseas; 67 Stateside Deaths Including 34 Alleged Suicides & 1 Unsolved Homicide
Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members
The Fort Hood Fallen on Facebook

Fort Bragg Army Pfc. David Winchester Found Dead in Barracks in North Carolina; Official Cause of Death Unknown (November 16, 2016)

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Pfc. David Winchester, U.S. Army

Army Pfc. David Winchester, 21, was found dead in his Fort Bragg barracks in North Carolina on November 16, 2016. Pfc. Winchester of Adamsville, Alabama was a biomedical equipment specialist; he joined the Army in April 2015. Pfc. Winchester was assigned to the 601st Area Support Medical Company, 261st Multi-functional Medical Battalion, 44th Medical Brigade at Fort Bragg. The Army sent out a media advisory to Associated Press announcing that agents with the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) were investigating the incident. The official cause of death is unknown.

Related Links:
PFC David Shiver Winchester, Jr | Find a Grave
Fort Bragg soldier found dead in barracks
Fort Bragg soldier found dead in barracks
Soldier found dead in his barracks on Fort Bragg
Soldier found dead in barracks at North Carolina fort
21-year-old soldier found dead in barracks at Fort Bragg
Army Investigates Death Of Alabama Soldier
Army investigating soldier’s death at Fort Bragg barracks
Army investigating soldier’s death at Fort Bragg barracks
Army Investigating Soldier’s Death At Fort Bragg Barracks In North Carolina
Investigation underway after soldier found dead Wednesday in Fort Bragg barracks
Adamsville family prepares to bury soldier found dead

Air Force SSgt Cierra Rogers Dies Mysteriously on U.S. Soil Shortly After Saving a Family from a Burning Building in South Korea (May 20, 2016)

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SSgt Cierra Rogers, US Air Force

Never forgotten SSgt. Cierra Rogers.

Related Links:
People holding blanket save mom, kids from fire in S. Korea
Osan honors airman who died after helping rescue family from fire
Staff Sergeant Dies From Injuries After Helping Rescue Family From Fire Outside Osan Air Base
Local airman dies mysteriously after helping save S. Korean family
Osan Air Base mourns loss of hero airman
UNSUNG HEROES: The Airman Who Died After Rescuing A Family From A Burning Building

Army Reservist SSG Virginia Caballero Died on Plane Enroute in US After Deployment in Kuwait, Family Received Conflicting Accounts of Cause of Death (September 13, 2014)

If you have any information that could help this family find answers, please contact us at militaryjusticeforall@gmail.com. Thank you.

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SSG Virginia Caballero, US Army Reserves (2014)

Honoring SSG Virginia Caballero, US Army Reserves, who became ill while en-route from Kuwait and then died unexpectedly shortly thereafter at a hospital in Rockford, Illinois on September 13, 2014. Apparently the commercial plane needed fuel and/or had to do an emergency landing for Virginia in Rockford, Illinois. It appears that they were on their way to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. According to reports, Caballero was a Reservist stationed with the 452nd Combat Support Hospital, 330th Medical Brigade out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin but trained at Fort McCoy prior to her deployment to Kuwait.  She served in Kuwait for roughly eight months and for some reason was coming home a month early with a high ranking travel companion. Media reports claim she wanted to surprise her family in Texas. It is believed Caballero suffered from a blood clot which was exacerbated with the altitude on the flight. She was not listed as a non-combat death by the Department of Defense but this would in fact be considered a non-combat death due to medical. The family admits in newspaper articles that a lot of the details are sketchy.

Here are the questions we have after combing through the below articles. Why was she coming home a month early accompanied by a high ranking travel companion if she was going to surprise her family? Did something happen in country prior to her boarding that plane? Was this an early surprise for family in Texas or an expedited transfer from Kuwait back to the states? The military isn’t in the business of assigning high ranking travel companions unless there is an issue. Were there any concerns about medical health prior to boarding the plane? Where were they flying to? Rockford, Illinois is only a couple hour drive from Fort McCoy. Why did they not land the plane sooner at a larger airport like Chicago when the medical issues began to develop or the fuel began to get low? Why did the DoD not send out an official notification of non-combat death considering she was on active duty orders in support of war efforts in Kuwait? Criminal Investigation Division (CID) was assigned to investigate the cause of death of Virginia. The family was asked to submit a FOIA request for the results of the investigation.

Related Links:
Army Soldier Reflects on Life Overseas and Time Back Home
Lubbock movers reach out to help purple heart recipient
Soldier flying home to surprise family in Texas dies en route
Decorated soldier flying home to surprise family in Abernathy dies en route
Local Purple Heart Recipient Died While On Active Duty
Purple heart recipient’s body to arrive in Lubbock on Saturday
Family, friends remember Virginia Caballero as Veterans Day approaches
The Heart of a Soldier: Sergeant earns hero’s salute from hometown
USAR SSG Virginia Caballero, 41 (Noonie Fortin)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Other Areas)
Tribute to SSG Virginia Caballero from her Family
Abell Funeral Home Tribute to Virginia Caballero