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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A Month in Review: In the News on Military Justice for All (December 2017)

January 2018 copy

Missing:
Conversation with Fred Murray – Part 1
Marine recruiting office closed, sealed amid search for missing recruit
Robert Lee Boddie, Sr. | Fox 5 Atlanta
Special agent’s disappearance doesn’t make sense
Disappeared: Disabled Army Veteran Joseph Weber IV Missing Since 11/24/14

Cold Cases:
10 Unsolved Military Cases
Cold Case: SSG Anton Phillips, US Army, Found Stabbed to Death at FOB Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan; CID Offering $25,000 Reward for Information (2009)
Unsolved Homicide: Fort Hood Army Pvt. Justin Lewis Shot & Killed Near Vacant Lot in Neighborhood in Killeen, Texas (2017)

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ACTIVE DUTY

Stateside Deaths:
Fort Riley NCO Kevin Johnson found dead at his home
Authorities investigate after airman found dead at Altus Air Force Base
Mountain Home Air Force Base identifies Airman found dead
Air Force investigating death of airman found in dorm
Heslam: Christmas event held in honor of ‘role model’ fallen soldier
Soldier home for holidays died saving lives in Bronx inferno
Army National Guardsman rescued others before dying in NYC fire

Overseas Deaths:
I Am Nathan
DoD Identifies Army Casualty: David Brabander, 24
DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Avadon Chaves, 20
Report: American Soldier Found Dead In Niger Fought To The Death, Was Never Captured
‘This is not closure’: Navy families want answers on McCain, Fitzgerald deaths
Why is the DOD Obscuring the Cause of Death of Thomas J. Boyle, Jr.?
Fort Bliss Soldier Dies in Non-Combat Incident in Iraq
Turlock soldier dies in Iraq
DoD Identifies Soldier Killed In Iraq
Troops Who Died Defending our Freedom (2017)

Homicide Cases:
Couple killed in murder-suicide identified
Marine found not guilty in teen’s death
Man charged in 2004 murder of Army captain
Sailor From USS Nimitz Involved in Apparent Murder-Suicide
Raleigh police investigate the shooting death of local soldier
Soldier’s death in Killeen weighs heavy on friend 8 months later
Police arrest second suspect in Tacoma WA. killing of Westchester soldier Da’Quan Foster
Savannah man indicted for murder in 2004 soldier’s slaying
Husband confesses to hiding wife’s body in drum of acid
Timberville Man Pleads to Missing Woman’s Death
After 15 years, father finds peace in knowing truth about his murdered daughter
Camp Pendleton Marine killed in off-base fight

Sex Crimes Cases:
Military Court Case Uncovers Marine Sex Escapades At Air Station Miramar
Airman sentenced for on-base Christmas party sex crime involving subordinate
Sexual Assault in Military Isn’t Going Away as a Problem
Alaska Supreme Court: State wrong to deny records request

Other Crime Cases:
Sarah Palin’s Son Track Charged with Beating his Father, Called Cops “Peasants”
Ex-Marine recruit accused of planning Christmas attack was inspired by ISIS, FBI says
New York man accused of fabricating decorated Green Beret military career
SF Terror Plot Suspect Served at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton: Records
3 Army Vets Set Free After 25 Years In Prison For Crime They Say They Didn’t Commit
Burglary suspects caught stealing from father of fallen veteran
Sarah Palin’s Son, Track, Arrested on Domestic Violence Charges Again

Military Explosives:

Wrongly Convicted:
Former Soldiers Get Bail in Murder Case After 25 Years in Prison
3 Army Vets Set Free After 25 Years In Prison For Crime They Say They Didn’t Commit

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NATIONAL GUARD

Administrative:
National Guardsmen awaiting pay months after hurricanes

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VETERANS

Deaths:

Homicide Cases:
Double homicide tops 2017 crime stories
The Stacks: The Searing Story of How Murder Stalked a Tiny New York Town
Man Charged in Killings of 2 Girls Is Found Hanged in Cell
Suspected Remains of Army Captain and Her Dog Found in Shallow Grave Following Her Ex’s Arrest
Missing army vet found dead in shallow grave next to her dog
Army veteran charged with killing man over drugs near Baldwin Park
Madera police ask Christmas Day murder suspect to turn himself in, seek public’s help
Police say suspect who killed man on Christmas day is armed and dangerous
Suspected of Christmas Day murder, he was caught by police at a veterans hospital

Veterans Affairs Issues:
“Operation Deep Dive” to Examine Veteran Suicide Causes and Factors
V.A. Issues New Medical Marijuana Policy For Military Veterans
VA knowingly hired doctors with past malpractice claims, discipline for poor care
White House VA Hotline Now Fully Staffed and Operational Around the Clock to Serve Nation’s Veterans
Agency adds new positions to help Maine veterans transition from jail
Congress approves emergency funding for VA Choice, prevents delays of veterans’ care
79-year-old veteran who lived in the NJ woods for a decade has come home
VA Doctors Are Now Cleared To Talk About Medical Marijuana With Patients
Trump Signs Bill Opening VA To More Investigations
There’s something missing from research on veteran suicides
Buchanan Backs Bill to Study Painkillers’ Roll in Vet Suicides
Veteran still fighting…for medical care for those who served
Trying To Upgrade Your Discharge? The VA Has An App For That Now
Having Trouble With The VA? You Might Consider Calling Congress
Man threatening to jump from Vincent Thomas Bridge finally comes down
Veteran’s Stolen Dog Located On Christmas Eve
Utah couple’s relentless pursuit to end veteran suicide: ‘If it’s not us — then who?’
Volusia man arrested, accused of running fake veterans charity, authorities say
Woman wants service error on father’s gravestone fixed
Fort Gibson Veteran’s Service Dog Denied Access On Plane
VA Harassment Victims Share Their Stories

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Mental Health:
5 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Anxiety
Is More CBD Better? The Science Behind CBD Dosing for Anxiety and Other Conditions
Why Don’t We See Men’s Pain? | Tom Golden #RPRF
10 Symptoms of PTSD Everyone Should Know
Army Reserve unit reaffirms values through speaker’s story
Depression among veterans can escalate during holiday season
‘It’s hard having someone deployed’ at Christmas
The day I rescued my human from herself
New in 2018: New mental health programs seek to ease strain on airmen, families
Some survivors are offered help, some deal alone with pain of military suicide

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MILITARY JUSTICE REFORM

Felony Crime:
Killeen Calling in Feds to Combat Crime
Air Force Academy unveils plan to rebuild scandal-ridden sexual assault office
She was late just once to her job at Hill Air Force Base. So when the 75-year-old didn’t show up last week, her co-workers began to worry.
Shuttle bus driver charged with killing colleague at former Walter Reed says he was defending himself

International Incidents:
Okinawa assault victim’s family sues former Marines convicted in 2008 attack
Marine Corps Blames Human Error For Helicopter Window That Fell Near Crowded Elementary School
Okinawa governor wants all US aircraft grounded after window fell near schoolchildren
British police confirm incident at RAF Mildenhall not terrorist-related; lockdown lifted
Shots fired in ‘disturbance’ at UK base used by US Air Force
South Koreans complain about stray rounds, noise from live-fire range

Accountability:
FBI investigates after 70-year-old widow duped out of $225K
Army general’s promotion pulled after calling congressional staffer ‘sweetheart’
Naval Officer Who Lost Job Over Anti-War Sentiments, Hate Group Activity Reinstated
Marine Three-Star Admonished in Fallout from Colonel’s Child-Abuse Case
Federal judge to rule on admissibility of statements in Fort Gordon bid-rigging conspiracy
Ex-Marine commandant guilty of unlawful command influence in infamous urine desecration case

Other Injustices:
How Peter Mims spent a week hiding in a warship’s engine room
Deported ex-Marine wins case to return to US from Mexico
Marines Crack Down On ‘Cruel, Abusive’ Hazing At Camp Pendleton
Transgender troops can enlist, over Trump’s demand for a ban
Mold at Al Udeid Air Base Was Preventable: IG Report
Green card holders can join the Army Reserve again — after a wait

Military Policy:
#AlToo?
Investigations
#MeToo run amok
I Didn’t Know | Angry Staff Officer
I, Too, Am Thinking About Me, Too
Meet the Women Worried About #MeToo
Senator Al Franken’s Resignation
Franken Urged to Reverse his Resignation
Prominent lawyer sought donor cash for two Trump accusers
House member offices paid $342k in settlements over 4 years
Drawing a Line on Sexual Harassment
Cities Sue DoD over Gun-Check System Failures
Cities sue Defense Dept. over gun-check system failures
The Air Force Is Terrible At Reporting Its Criminals. The Other Branches Are Even Worse
U.S. Air Force unveils criminal reporting reforms in wake of Texas shooting
Unwinding bureaucracy: Start of 2018 to see major Pentagon reform
FULL LIST: Democratic Lawmakers Call for Al Franken to Resign
Trent Franks: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
Convicted Man Asks For Court-Ordered Marine Service
Dear #MeToo, I’d like to introduce you to #MikePenceRules
Rolling Stone Settles Last Remaining Lawsuit Over UVA Rape Story
Lawsuit: Oberlin College sexual assault hearing process rigged, 100% conviction rate
Criminologist and FBI to Journalists: Stop Naming Mass Murderers
IG: Mishandling of sexual harassment complaints at Justice Department a ‘systemic’ problem
The US Military Has Always Been A Social Experiment
New in 2018: Services to focus on excess training, education requirements
Pentagon Leaders Looking to Make a Culture Shift Within the Military
Fifth of Fort Hood soldiers begin new year overseas
In 2018, Let’s Fight for Due Process
Propensity Evidence on Appeal

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MILITARY JUSTICE FOR ALL:

Publications:
Military Rape Documentary Funded and Distributed by Serial Predator and Hollywood Movie Executive Harvey Weinstein
Washington DC Veteran’s Presentation on the Current Status of the Armed Forces at Fort Hood in Texas (2017)
Dishonorably Discharged Army Veteran Robert Cox is a Person of Interest in the Disappearance of ‘The Springfield Three’ (June 7, 1992)
Keana Barnes Shot & Killed Air Force Sgt. Perry ‘P.J.’ Jennings in Louisiana; Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for 2 Homicides (2003)
Iraq Army Veteran Jonathan ‘Mike’ Gilotti Gunned Down in Front of Home in Alabama; 4 Individuals Charged with Murder, 1 Found Not Guilty (2016)
Fort Hood Army Spc. Zachary Moore Found Unresponsive in Barracks on Deployment to Camp Hovey, South Korea; CID Ruled Suicide (2017)
Fort Hood Army MSG Alva ‘Joe’ Gwinn Lead Police on High Speed Car Chase After Wellness Check Initiated; Died of Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound (2017)

On This Day:
Navy Wife Dina Kichler Raped & Murdered in Mayport, Florida by John Brewer Shortly After her Husband Deployed for Six Months on USS Forestall (December 3, 1990)
US Marine Lindell Mitchell Murdered in Home on Christmas Day; Kimberly Andrews Sentenced to 26 Years to Life in Prison (December 25, 1991)
Adrianne Jones Murdered by Air Force Academy Cadet David Graham and Naval Academy Cadet Diane Zamora; Motive Was Jealousy (December 4, 1995)
Leeds, England Police Officer Ian Broadhurst Gunned Down by Dishonorably Discharged Marine and Fugitive David Bieber During Routine Traffic Stop (December 26, 2003)
Navy Vet Peggy Thomas & Jim Huden Murdered Russel Douglas of Washington; Both Convicted, Huden Sentenced to 80 Years & Thomas Got 4 Years in Prison (December 26, 2003)
Former Air Force Reservist Michelle Theer Convicted of First Degree Murder of Husband Marty Theer for the Insurance Policy; Sentenced to Life in Prison, No Parole (December 3, 2004)
Navy Reservist Paul Berkley Murdered by Wife Monique in North Carolina while Home on Leave from Middle East, SGLI was the Motive (December 18, 2005)
Sandra Grant, 23, US Navy, Died of Natural Causes While Aboard the USS Eisenhower in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (December 31, 2006)
Marine LCpl Maria Lauterbach and Unborn Child were Murdered; Fellow Marine Cesar Laurean Found Guilty of First Degree Murder, Sentenced to Life in Prison (December 15, 2007)
SSG Anton Phillips, US Army, Found Stabbed to Death at FOB Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan; CID Offering $25,000 Reward for Information (December 31, 2009)
Navy Lt CDR Fred Trayers Stabbed to Death in California by Wife Jennifer Who was Angered by Infidelity with Fellow Navy Doctor (December 4, 2010)
Vietnam Veteran Francis Patrick Fleming, US Navy, Targeted & Stabbed to Death By Brenda Nicholas & Charles Jungbluth for $60,000 Coin Collection (December 8, 2011)
Spc Mikayla Bragg Died of a Non Combat Death in Afghanistan, Army Ruled Suicide & Report Calls for Continuity of Healthcare in Deployed Locations (December 21, 2011)
Fort Hood Army Soldier Michael Bailey II Allegedly Committed Suicide, Family Petitions Military and Killeen PD to Investigate Death as Murder (December 29, 2011)
Air Force Captain William DuBois Died When F-16 Aircraft Crashed in Jordan; USAF Accident Investigation Board Ruled Rapid Descent Caused Crash (December 1, 2014)
Wrongful Conviction: Fort Hood Army Soldier Thomas Chestnut’s Guilty Verdict was Overturned by the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals (December 14, 2016)
Army Pvt. Paige Fontenot Briles Found Unresponsive in Vehicle at Fort Hood Housing in Texas; Initially CID Investigated as Homicide But Later Ruled Suicide (December 24, 2016)
Army Veteran Fernando Duarte Fatally Shot in Florida Casino Parking Lot, Prosecutors Drop Murder Charges Against Two Men who Proved Self Defense (December 25, 2016)

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Featured in Television Episode, Movie, Documentary, Theatre:
Sneak peek: Murder by Design | 48 Hours
The Final Fall – Part 1 | Village of the Damned (Investigation Discovery)
Murder and dismemberment of cheerleaders Jennifer Bolduc and Sarah Hajney on Village of the Damned
Leading True-Crime Network Investigation Discovery Lifts The Veil On Mysterious Tragedies In A Small Town, ‘Village Of The Damned’
5 Things to Know About the Jeffrey MacDonald Case | Investigation Discovery
Final Vision | Investigation Discovery (Jeffrey MacDonald, US Army)
Duty, Honor And Murder | Diane Zamora Case | Crime Documentary
Nat Geo’s Iraq War Series: Gritty, Authentic, And Army-Approved
Body of War Documentary | The Real News
Filmmakers Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro Premiere the ‘Body of War’ Documentary Featuring Anti-War Activist & Disabled Army Vet Tomas Young (2007)
The Perfect Suspect (Investigation Discovery | GI Gone: Lisa Gaudenzi, US Army (1)
The Perfect Suspect (Investigation Discovery | GI Gone: Lisa Gaudenzi, US Army (2)
The 15:17 to Paris | Clint Eastwood (1)
The 15:17 to Paris | Clint Eastwood (2)

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MISCELLANEOUS:
The Top 10 Military Stories of 2017
We Asked You For The Biggest Military Stories Of 2017. Here Are The Top 21
Soldiers Honored for Saving Lives After Afghan Suicide Bombing
Veteran Helps Bring Ex-Iraq Military Interpreter, Family to US
2 Fort Carson brigades tapped for Afghanistan deployment
They went to lunch at the Ki-Be market and ended up foiling a murder plot
Jesse Ventura Takes His Last Shots At ‘American Liar’ Chris Kyle As He Drops Lawsuit
JBLM soldier jumped from pickup truck to help rescue passengers in train crash
Iraq War Veteran Reveals ‘Hostage’-Like Sexual Relationship With Disgraced NBC Host Matt Lauer
Ohio teens charged with murder after sandbag thrown from bridge hits car, kills passenger

Related Links:
A Month in Review: In the News on Military Justice for All (November 2017)
A Month in Review: In the News on Military Justice for All (December 2017)
A Month in Review: In the News on Military Justice for All (January 2018)
A Month in Review: In the News on Military Justice for All (February 2018)
A Month in Review: In the News on Military Justice for All (March 2018)

A 2011 Documentary Gives You an Inside Look at Toxic Leadership in the US Army: On the Dark Side in Al Doura, Iraq


U.S. Army Ranger John Needham, who was awarded two purple hearts and three medals for heroism, wrote to military authorities in 2007 reporting war crimes that he witnessed being committed by his own command and fellow soldiers in Al Doura, Iraq. His charges were supported by atrocity photos which, in the public interest, are now released in this video. John paid a terrible price for his opposition to these acts. His story is tragic. –On the Dark Side in Al Doura

After watching the 2011 documentary ‘On the Dark Side in Al Doura’ which profiles the case of Army Private John Needham, one can clearly observe the similarities to ‘The Kill Team’ PBS documentary released in 2014. On the Dark Side in Al Doura interviewed Michael Needham, the father of John Needham, who was an Army whistleblower from Fort Carson, Colorado and reported witnessing war crimes and atrocities in Iraq; The Kill Team profiled Adam Winfield, an Army whistleblower from Fort Lewis, Washington who witnessed and tried to report the same war crimes and atrocities in Afghanistan. For the sake of preservation, both John Needham and Adam Winfield admitted feeling pressured to conform or risk their own lives if they didn’t. They both felt like they were being set up to die or participate in the war crimes. Both soldiers at times felt like suicide was their only way out because there was no safe place for them to report overseas nor could they escape the situation. If they made it out of the war zone alive, the return home didn’t fair well for them. The PBS documentary  ‘The Wounded Platoon’ released in 2010 reveals the impacts the wars overseas had on Fort Carson soldiers. After watching these three documentaries, it’s clear why our soldier’s combat experiences traumatized and changed some of them. They not only had to fight a credible threat on the battlefields but some were betrayed by the very team they depended on for their lives.

Michael Needham takes us through the series of events that occurred in the course of John’s short Army career. He shared how John was the fifth generation in the family to fight in a war. John volunteered to join the Army in the spring of 2006, went to Fort Benning, Georgia for training, and then got stationed at Fort Carson. John was an Army Ranger assigned to the 212th, 2nd Combat Team, 12th Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. He was part of the infamous team known as the ‘Lethal Warriors’ which now appears to be disbanded. Part of his initiation into his new band of brothers was fighting other soldiers to determine where one fell in the pecking order. John held his own in the fights and was respected for his wins. According to John, the soldiers that didn’t fair so well in the fights were ‘smoked’ by leadership and peers, which ultimately forced them to leave, quit, or commit suicide. In October of 2006 John was deployed with his Fort Carson team to Al Doura, Iraq. His team was assigned to the Quarter Cav which was known for having some of the deadliest fights in the Iraq war.

John was a good soldier. He worked hard, saved lives in Iraq, and was awarded three medals for heroism and two Purple Hearts. John excelled as part of team, was brave, and his resilience was admirable. But during the course of John’s deployment, he witnessed war crimes and other atrocities committed by leadership and his fellow soldiers that affected his morale. John would also admit that initially he wasn’t quiet about it and when he did question superiors, he was told he didn’t have the right to question leadership. He didn’t dare report the war crimes via e-mail or telephone because he knew leadership could monitor everything. So for the sake of preservation and life’s sake, he did what he had to do to get by and stay alive. John would share that the Army was short of personnel so most of the soldiers got driven into the ground and deprived of sleep. After awhile John felt that he was forced into committing war atrocities that were illegal but feared if he didn’t do it, he would become a liability to the team and ultimately a casualty of his own people.

One night John was sent out on a mission with a Lieutenant (who did not commit war crimes yet remained silent). John thought this was unusual because they didn’t usually get sent out in pairs. They were ambushed by three shooters in the middle of the night who were determined to see them dead. When the shooting began, John pushed the Lieutenant to safety and kept the shooters at bay. He shot every round he had and when he was almost out of ammunition, he called the 212th for back-up on the radio but nobody answered him. Luckily another team was nearby who did answer him and was able to extract the soldiers from the situation and save their lives. It would be this incident that would break John’s spirit. He immediately suspected that he and the other soldier were sent on this mission to be killed. When he got back to the base, he began yelling “Why did you set us up?” And “If you want to kill me, kill me to my face!” But nobody acknowledged him so he went back to his tent where he decided that he would commit suicide. John was exhausted, irate, and he saw no way out. He didn’t want to live anymore. He felt that committing suicide was his only way out. John put a handgun to his head but just as he got ready to pull the trigger, his roommate dove and pushed the gun away from his head. The gun discharged and put a hole in the wall. Soldiers immediately began ascending upon the area. According to John, once leadership learned what happened, they held him down and beat him then locked him in captivity in a small room. The Battalion Commander was the one who kept John captive yet he didn’t press any formal charges.

John’s father Michael learned through John’s friends in Afghanistan that John was being held captive by the Battalion Commander. They were concerned about him. John’s family was already concerned about John’s earlier e-mails and posts on MySpace because it sounded like he had given up, which was not like him. With this information Michael Needham contacted Army commands, Fort Carson, Congressional leaders and the Army Inspector General (IG). He reports that the only office that took him seriously at the time was the IG. Michael was trying to save his son’s life. He told the IG that he didn’t want him to die. The IG’s office shared a list of rights for both John and Michael. And it was at this time Michael learned that he had third party rights and could intervene and act on John’s behalf. Michael was finally able to get in touch with the Battalion Commander only to learn that John was being treated like a criminal. The Battalion Commander informed Michael that John committed crimes and was being sent to prison in Kuwait. But Michael was able to intervene and get the Command to send him to medical instead. Medical determined that John was severely injured both physically and mentally. He had significant back injuries from the multiple explosions and blasts, shrapnel in his body, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Army medical in Iraq referred John to medical in Germany and from there he would be sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the states. But not before the Battalion Commander would put up one more roadblock. Instead, Michael Needham won this battle and John was flown to Germany.

Eventually, John was sent to Ward 54 which is the psychiatric ward at Walter Reed. Michael shared that John appeared to like the psychiatric help he was getting. A month into John’s stay at Walter Reed, he was informed that the Iraq Battalion Commander contacted the 212th Command in Colorado and requested that John be sent back to Fort Carson where he was facing criminal charges including unlawful discharge of a weapon. They were making him go and sent armed guards to accompany him back to Fort Carson. Michael Needham tried to intervene with the 212th at Fort Carson but they said they couldn’t do anything because they had orders from the Battalion Commander. John was sent back to Fort Carson and the harassment he endured in Iraq continued with the 212th in Colorado. John shared that they mentally tortured him, banged on his barracks door, stole his things, and isolated him. It was at this time Michael elicited the help of a veteran advocate Andrew Pogany who went to the command in Colorado and held these people personally accountable. Andrew helps soldiers in John’s situation because he understands how important it is to intervene. John could not get the kind of help that he needed at Fort Carson. Michael shared that the soldiers could see a professional once a week if they were suicidal and once a month if they were not. John’s father wanted him transferred to a Naval Medical Center in San Diego for intensive treatment and so he could be closer to home. Andrew helped make that happen.

Michael began to understand the impacts the war had on his son after John got back to California. John couldn’t handle driving above 35 mph, was suspicious of trash on the side of the road, and was easily startled by loud noises. He could not function in public and suffered with what is known as flashbacks. The Naval Medical Center in San Diego recommended that John get surgery on his back right away. They warned him that he could become paralyzed if he didn’t get the surgery. In the meantime Johns father spoke candidly with one of the Navy doctors about the treatment John received both in Iraq and at Fort Carson. He reiterated that he was concerned about his well being and asked him to help him find a way to prevent John from being sent back to Fort Carson, Colorado. Michael Needham feared that if John got sent back to Fort Carson that he would not return. This doctor agreed to help John. And Andrew Pogany recommended that John report the war crimes to the Army in an effort to protect John from being complicit and implicated in the future. John reported to the Army that he witnessed both leadership and peers killing innocent Iraqi civilians during the October 2006 to October 2007 timeframe in and around Al Doura. It wasn’t long after John made the report that all the charges against him were dropped and Fort Carson gave the necessary approval to transfer him to Balboa Naval Command. John went in front of the medical board and was medically retired for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and back injuries. He was discharged honorably from the Army. The Army investigated John’s claims but concluded that no war crimes were committed.

Michael and John won a lot of battles with the US Army but soon they would lose the war. Just days after John was discharged from the Army, he would be accused of beating his new girlfriend to death with his bare hands. John Needham was charged with the murder of Jacqwelyn Villagomez and jailed for ten months until his family raised enough money to get him out on bail. John was not given treatment while jailed so the family was motivated to get him out so he could get the treatment he needed. John did in fact follow through with getting treatment and he learned a lot about himself in the process. He spent some time on camera talking about how the combat stress and the betrayal from his team impacted him. He talked about how he didn’t realize the significant impacts from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. John recognized how PTSD and TBI did in fact play a role in his fight or flight response mechanisms and that it may be because these conditions went untreated that he disocciated, snapped and beat his girlfriend to death. The two were in a heated argument after Jacqwelyn attacked one of John’s female friends. Both of them were volatile but unfortunately there were no witnesses to the event as John’s friend was outside the home calling the police to report Jacqwelyn. While John was awaiting trial, he went to Arizona to get another surgery and visit with his mom. On February 19, 2010 following treatment at the Department of Veterans Affairs, John would be found dead in his room from an overdose on painkillers. The cause of death at autopsy was considered undetermined and it is unclear if John accidentally overdosed or committed suicide.

Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis, M.D. (Ret.), a former top military psychiatrist who until recently was a consultant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told us: “[TBI ]most sensitively affects executive functioning, that part of the brain that we use for judgment and we use for decision making … when we are in situations of intense emotion. So if a person is affected neurologically … they don’t have the controls that they had before. … They can’t think as clearly. …They are really vulnerable to just reacting, overreacting, particularly maybe doing something that they had done when they’d been in combat.” –The Wounded Platoon

As a parent, Michael Needham has questions for the Army. Why don’t they even recognize the problem? Why don’t they take care of the soldiers? And why did they leave his son John Needham behind? The documentary ‘On the Dark Side in Al Doura’ concludes with the reminder that since the Patriot Act was passed and Dick Cheney declared that we needed to go into the shadows, the definition of torture has been blurred. The Abu Ghraib prisoner torture and abuse scandal erupted under the Bush administration in 2003 but no war crimes have been investigated under President Barack Obama’s administration. If the rule of law has been lost, what do we have? Our military personnel have a responsibility to abide by the rules established by the Geneva Conventions. John Needham and Adam Winfield both reported witnessing innocent civilians murdered by their fellow leadership and peers in Iraq and Afghanistan. They both also shared the impact the crimes had on their mental health and morale. They wished they could have reported the crimes to someone who would have listened and understood that their lives were in danger. We can learn a lot from John Needham and Adam Winfield; they have experienced what it’s like to be a whistleblower in the US Army. They have clearly illustrated what toxic leadership in the Army looks like and how whistleblowers in the US military have nowhere to turn.

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Private John Needham, US Army

Related Links:
Dateline NBC Mystery: Private Needhams War
PBS Documentary: The Wounded Platoon
On the Dark Side in Al Doura: A Soldier in the Shadows
PBS Documentary: The Kill Team
The PBS Documentary ‘The Kill Team’ Nominated for an Emmy
Retired Army Pvt John Needham Beat his Girlfriend Jacqwelyn Villagomez to Death, Then Died of an Overdose on Painkillers Awaiting Murder Trial (2008)
Honoring Jacqwelyn Villagomez who Died at the Hands of Retired Army Private John Needham (2008)

Disappeared: Disabled Army Veteran Joseph Weber IV Missing from San Francisco, California Since November 24, 2014

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Joseph Weber IV, US Army Veteran (photo credit: Missing Veterans)

Disabled Army veteran Joseph Weber IV, 28, disappeared near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California on November 24, 2014. Joseph is an Iraq war veteran who struggled with both Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). If you have any information, please contact the Sunnyvale Police Department at (408) 730-7100.

Related Links:
Find Joseph Weber
Find Joseph Weber on Facebook
Missing Veterans: Joseph Weber
The Charley Project: Joseph Weber IV
Joseph Weber missing Army veteran from California
Iraq War veteran disappeared near Golden Gate Bridge
Sunnyvale: Veteran killed in officer shooting, but not missing vet with same name


Joesph Weber an Iraqi combat veteran walks on to the Golden Gate bridge and disappears. -Missing and Tattooed

Army Veteran Tomas Young Dies at 34; Shot & Paralyzed on Black Sunday in 2004 on Peace Keeping Mission with Fort Hood in Sadr City, Iraq (2014)

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US Army Veteran Tomas Young (photo by Danny Clinch)

“I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all — the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.” -Tomas Young, Disabled Army Veteran

Read the rest of The Last Letter to Bush and Cheney here.

Tomas Young, who joined the Army in the days after 9/11, was deployed to Iraq where he was shot and paralyzed just five days into his tour of duty. He spent ten years battling his injuries and speaking out against war and injustice before his death on the eve of Veterans’ Day, 2014. “Tomas told me that one of the reasons he joined the Army was to obtain GI Bill funding so he could go to college,” said [Mark] Wilkerson (author of Tomas Young’s War). “He wanted to study creative writing or journalism. After his passing, we felt a scholarship would be a perfect way to honor his legacy.” –Pearl Jam

Body of War, a film by Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue. It is an intimate and transformational feature documentary about the true face of war today. -The Real News

Related Links:
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Body of War Documentary
Tomas Young’s War by Mark Wilkerson
Tomas Young Scholarship | Pearl Jam
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Back Home from Iraq with Tomas Young
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The Long Road Home – Trailer | National Geographic
First Look: The Long Road Home | The Long Road Home
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Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro Produce ‘Body of War’ Documentary Featuring Anti-War Activist & Disabled Army Veteran Tomas Young (2007)
The Fort Hood Fallen on Facebook

Honoring Veteran Justin Eldridge, US Marine Corps, Connecticut (2013)

USMC

Marine Corps veteran Justin Eldridge was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Waterford, Connecticut home on October 29, 2013. Justin served in the USMC for 8 1/2 years. After a deployment to Afghanistan he battled with both Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. As a result he was medically retired from the USMC in 2008. Justin was married with four children at the time of his death. Justin’s wife Joanna has continued the fight for our soldiers and veterans. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) honored Justin Eldridge on the Senate Floor and co-sponsored a veteran suicide prevention bill in his name. Joanna attended the 2015 State of the Union in January and the bipartisan suicide prevention bill was signed into law in March 2015.

His final message, posted on his Facebook Page at about 9 p.m., “theres only so much bashing someone can take before they react………” -Waterford Patch

Related Links:
Justin Eldridge Obituary
Justin Eldridge’s Battle With PTSD Ended In Tragedy Last Night
For Waterford veteran, battling PTSD was too tough a fight
Man who killed himself in Waterford was ex-Marine
Former Marine’s suicide in Waterford standoff shocks friends
Marine’s Family Decides To Talk Openly About His Suicide
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Why One Man’s Death Is A National Tragedy
U.S. Marine’s Suicide Magnifies Veterans Needs, Says Acclaimed Cowboy Singer R.W. Hampton
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Widow of Connecticut Marine to Attend State of the Union Address
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Bipartisan veterans suicide prevention act signed into law


In a Senator Floor speech today, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal honors the heroism of United States Marine Justin Eldridge of Waterford, tragic victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who took his own life two days ago.

Mother Jones | Charts: Suicide, PTSD and the Psychological Toll on America’s Vets (2013)


Last year more military personnel committed suicide than were killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the Department of Defense, 455 troops died in hostile action, and at least 468 active duty and reserve troops died in suspected suicides. It’s a growing problem the armed services have been trying to counter for years. So what does the Pentagon, families and all of us have to do, to stop it from happening? VETS Chief of Staff Amit Magdieli discusses. -RT

14 staggering stats about the invisible wounds of Iraq and Afghanistan:

Learn more from Mother Jones here.

Investigation Reveals Retired Marine Daniel Vandecar Not Involved in Schutzler Homicide; Mother Rosemary Guilty, Sentenced to Life (2010)

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A Stranger in My Home is a television show featured on Investigation Discovery.

“Your house should be a place where we feel most comfortable, but to someone who wants to pose a threat, there’s no better way to get inside your life than to get inside your home. Let the wrong person in and it could be the last mistake you ever make.” ~A Stranger in My Home

A Stranger in My Home, an Investigation Discovery program, featured the 2010 case of Roy Schutzler and Rosemary Vandecar in North Las Vegas, Nevada. It was appropriately titled The Two-Faced Murder because Rosemary considered herself Roy’s caregiver yet in the end she was the one who would end his life. We were initially led to believe that her son, Daniel Vandecar, was also involved in the crime but as it turns out the investigation revealed that he had no involvement. He was a victim of circumstance in the matter. He too may have needed a caregiver because he was a retired disabled Marine who had served during a time of war in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He had Post Traumatic Stress and quite possibly a traumatic brain injury from a roadside bomb he encountered on his last tour. He moved in with his mother Rosemary and R0y in an attempt to decompress after retiring from the military.

“You get back from the war and all you get is salutes at the mall and nervous looks.” ~Daniel Vandecar, USMC Retired

Rosemary and Roy lived in a nice apartment in a rough part of town in North Las Vegas. It was seedy enough that the paramedic who responded to the scene wanted to remain anonymous on camera. Paramedics initially responded to a scene that they thought may be a seizure related incident and they found Rosemary giving Roy CPR. They observed that his chest was not moving. As a result of the injuries paramedics transferred Roy to the emergency room. Daniel wasn’t sure what was going on. He thought maybe he had a heart attack. Rosemary told the police and paramedics that Roy had a panic attack so she attempted to get him in the shower. She set him down on the toilet, left to get a cloth, and returned to find him on the floor. She assumed that maybe he hit his neck on the sink as he was falling. She screamed to Daniel to call 911. Daniel awoke from a deep sleep on the couch, responded to her, and then called for help.

Roy Schutzler was dead by the time investigators got to the hospital. But they learned from the doctors that the injuries were not consistent with the statement from Rosemary. They found bruising from head to toe in all different stages of healing. As a result an autopsy was ordered because the February 8, 2010 death was ruled suspicious. Rosemary and Daniel also went to the hospital to check in on Roy only to learn that he had passed. At the hospital Daniel observed his mom acting panicky and said she was freaking out. She also stated that she feared getting pinned for Roy’s death. Daniel wasn’t sure why his mom would say this but assured her it would be okay. Meanwhile CSI is at their house going through the scene and taking pictures because the initial autopsy revealed ligature marks around Roy’s neck and serious wounds inside his throat. This was a full blown homicide investigation now and Rosemary had every reason to fear that she would be considered a suspect.

Roy Schutzler spent his life in Michigan. He grew up loving cowboys and indians and was obsessed with the Lone Ranger; he had a lot of memorabilia. He was married to Sharon and they had two children. They met in college and after they graduated they got married.  He was an occupational therapist and was described as female dependent. He met Rosemary Vandecar at work. She worked for a non-profit agency that helped women maneuver the legal system. She helped them understand their rights, options, and got them through the process. She had some personal struggles with domestic abuse and now some legal issues with a divorce and child custody. She was a military wife and according to others her husband was a monster. He had a history of abuse and violence. They were going through a wicked custody battle and the two children were temporarily placed in foster care. During the divorce she was assigned a Child Protective Services worker and Roy was the one who would help her come up with a plan.

Rosemary heard that Roy had lost his wife and paid him a visit one day to see how he was doing and to offer support.

A month later, with Roy’s guidance, the children were returned to Rosemary and she had full custody. Roy was described as a caring kind of guy. He was raised to help other people which is why he retired early when he learned that his wife Sharon had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2003. A few years later in 2007 Sharon died and months and years later Roy’s sadness deepened to depression. But he had a good relationship with his family and often visited with his daughter and grandchildren who lived close by. Because Roy is female dependent he transferred the dependency from Sharon (his wife) to his daughter Cathy Jo. Rosemary heard that Roy had lost his wife and paid him a visit one day to see how he was doing and to offer support. And it wasn’t long before Roy transferred his female dependency from his daughter to Rosemary. Roy was aging and his health was not so great so he needed a caregiver and soon Rosemary moved in.

Roy was hoping that his relationship with Rosemary would become romantic. He was enamored with her and his spirits were soaring. But after Rosemary moved in he went from a hands on grandfather to not visiting them at all. He no longer answered the phone or responded when his family left messages. Roy’s family was beginning to get upset about this. They continued trying to contact him multiple times. After not hearing from him around six weeks Roy’s daughter Cathy Jo went to his home to make sure he was okay. During the visit, Cathy Jo and Rosemary got into a heated argument. Roy became upset and told them he didn’t want yelling in his house and was forced to take a side. Roy chose Rosemary’s side and now had a strained relationship with his family. The family was deeply concerned because they didn’t know what was happening with him. They even asked police to do a wellness check. This angered Roy and he asked the family to leave him alone.

The family realized that there is nothing you can do if the person is of sound mind.

The family realized that there is nothing you can do if the person is of sound mind but Roy’s daughter was not going to give up. Cathy Jo continued to have confrontations with Rosemary. And eventually Roy became paranoid. He thought Cathy Jo was breaking into his house. At one point Cathy Jo did take matters into her own hands. She had a key and went into her dad’s house and looked around but she didn’t break in. She was concerned because she felt Rosemary was controlling and purposefully separating him from the family. Rosemary was isolating him. But Roy felt differently. He did not feel that these were acts of love from his family, instead he felt they were a nuisance and an intrusion on his property. He contacted an attorney to get a restraining order against his daughter. Meanwhile Rosemary suggested they leave and go out west. They sold the house and left without even a goodbye and settled into their new home in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

On the other side of the country Rosemary’s son, Daniel Vandecar, got into a drunken argument with a woman he was dating and living with. And she wanted him out. Daniel claims there was nothing physical but she called the police to make him leave. Instead he got arrested and jailed by police even though his now ex-girlfriend didn’t press any charges. Daniel shared with the audience that he was injured in the war and had PTSD. He was a veteran of three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He served in the US Marine Corps for six years and paid a stiff price for that service. He was injured by a roadside bomb and in addition to the PTSD, he had a pressure injury to the head. He witnessed the loss of troops and people he was close with, he did things in war that most people can’t even imagine. After getting out of the military he got two DUIs and had three failed relationships but he says he doesn’t have anyone to blame but himself.

“After two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, you are going to sit there and ask me if I am traumatized.” ~Daniel Vandecar, USMC Retired

While he was awaiting a decision from the court, he turned to his mother for help. Eventually the district attorney agreed to drop the charges if he provided them with an address that was 500 miles out. Roy and Rosemary were okay with Daniel moving in with them in Nevada. Daniel felt that after retiring from the Marine Corps he needed to decompress and calm down. This is the reason he moved to Las Vegas.

Roy’s sister hadn’t heard from Roy since he moved to Nevada. As a result, his family in Michigan was concerned that something was wrong. They called him many times. His sister Joanne called as well. When family did call, Rosemary would tell Roy they were trying to control him and that they thought he was an idiot. Roy didn’t want any dealings with family and cut them out of everything. But he wasn’t entirely isolated now that Daniel was living there. Roy and Daniel started hanging out a lot. Daniel even shared that he took Roy to his first bar for a drink. Roy began helping him out and giving him advice. They discussed Daniel’s drinking and he suggested a job re-training program to help get him back on his feet. Daniel was only 24 at the time and he appreciated Roy helping him adjust to civilian life.

Meanwhile tensions are rising between Roy and Rosemary. Rosemary started getting angry and Roy just kept quiet around her. Daniel shared that Roy was kind of scared of Rosemary. According to Daniel, they were always out gambling (and Roy had a good size pension and savings account to keep them going). They withdrew tens of thousands of dollars at the casinos. Daniel claimed his mother had a fierce addiction to gambling. One night Rosemary wanted both Roy and Daniel to go to the casino with her despite the fact that neither were feeling well. Daniel had some wisdom teeth out so he was taking pain medication. And Roy was in the back seat of the car wheezing. Daniel was concerned but Rosemary assured him that he was fine. Daniel admitted that he was mixing alcohol with the pain medication that night so he was irresponsible but he wasn’t driving or anything so he went with it.

They withdrew tens of thousands of dollars at the casinos. ~Detective

Daniel mixed Jack and Cokes with pain medication throughout the evening. He was tired and wanted to go home. On the way home Roy began coughing and hacking. Again Daniel was concerned and thought that maybe he needed some help. He suggested to Rosemary that maybe they should call someone or take him to a doctor. She responded with he can die in a ditch for all I care. Daniel went home and Roy and Rosemary went back out. Around dawn he awoke to his mom screaming for him to call 911. Roy was laying unconscious on the bathroom floor. The ambulance and police arrived to take him to the hospital. His mom then said they are going to try and pin this on me. Daniel remembered thinking why is she so panicky about this? Why is she freaking out? Soon Daniel would find out why. After homicide detectives are assigned to the case and the death is ruled suspicious, they arrest both Daniel and Rosemary Vandecar for the murder of Roy Schutzler.

Rosemary was a petite 100 pound lady. Daniel was a 6’4 Army veteran with Post Traumatic Stress and a murder tattoo across his chest. According to the journalist interviewed for this program, it wasn’t a far stretch for police to suspect that Daniel was involved in the homicide. It was pretty easy to come to the conclusion of who may have done it, he said. The police felt that this was a brutal act of homicide because Roy died of strangulation. Rosemary and Daniel were questioned. The police spoke to Daniel first. They interrogated him for over seven hours. Daniel swore that he didn’t do anything to Roy. He wasn’t intimidated by the questioning and remained matter of fact. He maintained that he didn’t have anything to do with it. He had been taking pain medication and drinking and was out cold until he awoke to his mother screaming for him to call 911 around 6 a.m. The police did not believe he was involved in Roy’s death.

The detectives spoke with Rosemary next. Rosemary denied any knowledge and dodged all the questions. She reiterated that she thought he died of natural causes. She heard the crash, went running into the bathroom, and maybe Roy did this to himself. Police informed her that there was way too much damage for that scenario. So then Rosemary changed her story and claimed that she was a victim of Roy in the relationship. She said they got in an argument and Roy became abusive. He wouldn’t let her close the bathroom door. She was tired of the abuse and had enough. She admitted that she remembered having her hands around his neck and choking him while she told him I hate you. She questioned whether she did kill him and claimed that she didn’t know because she blacked out. They went back to Daniel for corroboration of Rosemary’s story.

“Roy would never hurt a fly. She is delusional.” ~Roy Schutzler’s Family

Daniel claimed that Roy was a gentleman to his mom. He told them that his mother was a drama queen from hell. He said she lied, she was abusive, and she did not treat Roy good. Rosemary had an abusive history towards Roy. Daniel witnessed her driving her finger into Roy’s chest when she got angry. Daniel also described her behavior at the hospital. She told Daniel that she needed to clear the bank before the family got involved. She also said that if she gets caught, she is skipping town. Daniel thought she was psychotic. Turns out Roy’s family had a right to be concerned. Rosemary systematically separated him from the family. She got him to sign over Power of Attorney and change his will. Rosemary was charged with second degree murder. They found $5,200 in cash and a $10,000 cashiers check in her purse. In 2012, Rosemary Vandecar was sentenced to 10 years to life with the possibility of parole, plus a consecutive eight to 20 years. Under Nevada law, Vandecar got sentenced with an enhancement of Murder of Older Person because the victim was older than 60.

Rosemary’s daughter doesn’t believe that the crime was deliberately premeditated. She acknowledged that some speculate that Rosemary may have been covering for Daniel. But she said do not believe that theory because she has been on the other side of those chokeholds and knows the abusive behavior well. She said she also knows her brother. Rosemary took advantage of Roy because he was grieving and wanted a relationship. Daniel said his biggest regret was not calling Adult Protective Services. He said if the family was watching, he wanted them to know that he apologized and wished that he could have done something different. But what Daniel may not have realized is that Roy’s family did everything they could to make sure that Roy was okay and safe including wellness checks. Nothing could break through the manipulative hold that Rosemary had on Roy in this case and the family’s fruitless efforts to intervene prove it. This case is another reminder that we need to find new ways to take special care of older populations who are vulnerable to sociopaths, scammers, and abusers.

Daniel Vandecar, thank you for your dutiful service to the USMC.

Related Links:
Mother, son live-in caregivers arrested in man’s death
Man allegedly strangled by live-in caregivers identified
Mother, Son Charged In Killing
Vandecar convicted in Vegas murder
Vandecar speaks out about mother’s trial
Court rejects claims of sleeping juror, upholds conviction


An old man collapses in his bathroom, gasping for air. The caregiver tries to save him while her son calls for help in vain. This “accident” isn’t what it seems, though… and the true story reveals murder. -Investigation Discovery