Saturday, July 31, 2010

New "Army Strong" Video

This new commercial reinforces how great it is to be an American and how lucky we are to have such men and women serving in our military.

These soldiers are reciting the Soldiers Creed, such a valued part of a soldier's life that I placed it at the beginning of my book:

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I am proud to have served in and retired from the U. S. Army.

Charles M. Grist

War Video: Americans & Afghans Ambushed by Taliban

From 2009:

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Hang in there guys...

Charles M. Grist

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Help for Homeless Veterans

It is tragic that so many of America's veterans have become homeless. I was contacted by Brandon Fischer at VA Benefit who asked me to provide this info to you:

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From VA Benefit

Veterans make up about one-third of the homeless population, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, and the Department of Veterans Affairs is determined to end this within the next couple of years. Thus on June 3, the VA and HUD announced that they are administering $58.6 million to local housing agencies in order to provide permanent housing to homeless veterans.

The grant — HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) — is part of a $75 million investment targeted at providing services to homeless veterans. They hope that with the $58.6 million in housing vouchers they can provide housing and assistance to nearly 8,000 veterans.

VA Sec. Eric K. Shinseki said, “The most effective option to providing veterans permanent shelter is HUD-VASH — the nation’s largest permanent housing initiative for veterans,” and that the VA and HUD are making a “critical, long-term investment toward ending homelessness among veterans.” This is on top of the VA loan program that is already in place.

How it works:

Public housing agencies that work directly with homeless veterans will team up with local VA Medical Centers to ensure that those veterans who do need housing assistance will receive it. HUD will distribute the housing vouchers to these agencies, and in turn, veterans will receive more permanent housing and other necessary services.

The need is based on several factors, such as the number of homeless veterans a community reports and how closely located they are to a VA Medical Center. Case managers at the VA Medical Centers then work with the veteran once they are given the voucher and make sure that they actually find appropriate housing. Those veterans who do participate in housing assistance via HUD-VASH “rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.”

Coming soon is an expected announcement that HUD will initiate a second round of funding for another 1,355 rental vouchers and 400 more project-based vouchers to be announced later this summer. Currently this is the third year that HUD-VASH has been operating with a total investment of $225 million, which will provide 20,000 housing assistance vouchers.

For further information on this post, contact Brandon Fischer at .

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Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Please check out their website.

Charles M. Grist

Saturday, July 24, 2010

North Korea Threatens "Nuclear Response" to Military Exercises

The loons in North Korea are at it again:

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North Korea Vows 'Nuclear' Response to US Drills

AOL News
Lauren Frayer

(July 24) -- North Korea threatened today to use its "nuclear deterrent" in a "retaliatory sacred war" against military drills by the U.S. and South Korea, set to kick off this weekend in retaliation for Pyongyang's alleged role in the suspicious sinking of a South Korean warship.

The military exercises are slated to begin Sunday in the Sea of Japan, involving 20 ships – including the USS George Washington, one of the world's largest aircraft carriers – plus 100 aircraft and about 8,000 American and South Korean troops. Lasting through Wednesday, the drills demonstrate tight military cooperation between Seoul and Washington, who blame North Korea for torpedoing the Cheonan warship in March, killing 46 sailors. The U.S. has also announced new sanctions against the North.

For Pyongyang, the drills are an "unpardonable provocation," its state media reported today. The communist North denies any role in the Cheonan's demise, and has threatened all-out war if it's punished.

"The army and people of the [North] will legitimately counter with their powerful nuclear deterrence the largest-ever nuclear war exercises," state media said today, reading a statement from North Korea's National Defense Commission, headed by leader Kim Jong-Il.

Pyongyang's latest threat is its most strongly-worded – referring for the first time to the reclusive state's nuclear capabilities – after days of similar comments from its delegate to Asia's biggest security forum, held in Vietnam this past week. At the Hanoi meeting, North Korea abandoned the use of its official media as a mouthpiece, and had its spokesman lambast the U.S. and South Korea while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was in the very same room.

Clinton took the floor as well, calling North Korea an "isolated and belligerent" nation that's embarked on a "campaign of provocative, dangerous behavior." She said the stability of all of Asia depends on whether North Korea changes its behavior.

"It is distressing when North Korea continues its threats and causes so much anxiety among its neighbors and the larger region," Clinton said Friday. "But we will demonstrate once again with our military exercises ... that the United States stands in firm support of the defense of South Korea, and we will continue to do so."

Both Clinton's comments and those carried by North Korean state media today were reported by several news outlets.

The U.S.-South Korean drills, announced earlier this week by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, are another example of how Washington has raced to Seoul's defense after the Cheonan's sinking. The U.S. also backed Seoul's efforts to bring the matter to the U.N. Security Council, which issued a statement earlier this month condemning the ship's sinking but stopped short of assigning blame.

The weaker statement was due in large part to the influence of China, Pyongyang's only powerful ally, which has not fully accepted an international panel's conclusion that North Korea torpedoed the Cheonan. China has also criticized the upcoming U.S.-South Korean military exercises, with a foreign ministry spokesman expressing "deep concern" earlier this week.

China's hesitancy to blame the Cheonan's sinking on a North Korean torpedo is now surprisingly being echoed by some inside South Korea as well, according to a new report by the Los Angeles Times. Even though Clinton has called the evidence against Pyongyang "overwhelming," the paper quotes some South Korean opposition leaders as questioning that. They say it's unlikely the impoverished North Korean regime could have pulled off a torpedo attack, and find it strange that the South Korean president issued his findings on the very day campaigning began in local elections.

The two rival Koreas are technically still on a war footing since their 1950-53 war ended with an armistice but not a peace treaty. But tensions over the Cheonan have brought the peninsula closer than ever to renewed all-out war.

Officers from the American-led U.N. Command, tasked with observing the shaky armistice, met Friday with members of the North Korean military and informed them that the Cheonan incident violated the armistice's rules. They scheduled another such meeting for later this month.

Lauren Frayer is a freelance journalist and former Associated Press correspondent who has reported from Washington, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and Pakistan.

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Another crisis raises its head for the Obama administration. Standing strong in the face of such threats is the only logical response...

Charles M. Grist

Friday, July 23, 2010

Portraits of the Fallen by Kaziah Hancock

A gift from the heart of an extraordinary woman. Check out Project Compassion:

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Thanks, Kaziah, for being a great American, unique of spirit, filled with love...

Charles M. Grist

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nothing Ever Stays the Same: Army Makes Changes to Basic Training

The Army has announced some changes to basic training. The following article is from the Army News Service:

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The Top Ten Basic Training Changes

July 20, 2010
Army News Service
by Kelly Schloesser

This year, Basic Combat Training has gone through a transformation. Here are some of the changes you'll see in new Basic and OSUT courses, as of 1 July 2010:

1. BCT has become more challenging...not "softer." BCT has been extended from nine weeks to 10. The Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills (WTBD) have been refined, and are now geared toward training fewer and more relevant tasks well. These tasks and battle drills correspond with the current operating environment, and we are using training that is geared toward the generation of Soldiers entering our Army during this time of war...and those must be adapted to all the Occupational Specialties. (Find the WTBD on the, Army Training Network)

2. Rifle Marksmanship is more extensive, with more hours on the range, more bullets fired, and Soldiers using both Basic and Advanced techniques. Soldiers now fire 500 rounds (750 for infantry) during basic, and also have to "certify" as part of the Combat Field Fire phase based on the new Rifle Marksmanship Strategy. While all BCT Soldiers fire "slick" (no equipment) through qualification tables (BRM) to allow for familiarity with the weapon, equipment is worn during the difficult and combat-related Advanced Rifle Marksmanship (ARM) period.

3. Combatives are more relevant...and tougher! New instruction has been added which teaches Soldiers to fight from their feet, not wrestle and grip on the ground. Soldiers now attend 22 hours of instruction, which is double the previous requirement at BCT. Additional techniques - wearing full kit - have been added that is more relevant to what Soldiers might be asked to do in a combat situation.

4. Most up-to-date medical training in Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) and Combat Lifesaver (CLS). Medical experts have taken combat lessons and updated the first aid training Soldiers receive. There's no longer an IV "stick. Why? Because doctors say it's counterproductive on the battlefield, and useless for treating heat injuries. New techniques for preventing heat injuries before they happen are now taught.

5. Physical Training is standardized, with scientifically proven techniques that improve conditioning and help prevent injuries. Those returning from combat say "drop the long runs, the repetitive sets of pushups and sit-ups, and volleyball games; instead focus on training the right muscles and energy systems needed in the fight! Prepare your body for walking patrol with SAPI and equipment or hauling your injured buddy out of harm's way!" FM 22-20 has been replaced with TC 3.22-20, and that applies to Soldiers in Basic Combat Training and the entire Army (and, you can get this Training Circular as an app starting in August)!

6. No more bayonet assault course against rubber tires...but lots more pugil and combatives against a thinking opponent. The bayonet assault course has been a staple of bayonet training since WWI. But that's when bayonets were prevalent on the battlefield! The last time the US had a bayonet assault was in 1951, and the rifle we now use in combat isn't meant for bayonet charges. Now, Soldiers will see more pugil drills in pits and on obstacle courses. This, combined with additional hours in combatives, will "warriorize" our Soldiers.

7. Expanded Values and Culture Training. Soldiers will still receive instruction in the Seven Army Values, but that instruction will focus on applying those values in combat, in garrison, and during off-duty time. That's to build a better Soldier...and a better citizen! And all Soldiers will now be issued a The Army Soldier's "Blue Book" (also available as an iPhone or Droid app) that links our present-day Soldier to his predecessors, and describes our professional requirements.

8. We're treating the Soldier as a "Tactical Athlete". The Surgeon General of the Army will begin supplementing initial training units with physical therapists and athletic trainers to prevent injuries and ensure better conditioning. Additionally, we're instituting the "Soldier Fueling" initiative, to teach and enable Soldiers to develop a nutritional lifestyle to counter our societal challenges.

9. We've instituted Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF). Every Drill Sergeant has received Resiliency Training, and all new Soldiers take the Global Assessment Tool upon entering Basic. Additionally, all AIT Platoon Sergeants receive 10 days of resiliency training.

10. We're connected to Social Media, and on web pages. IMT does fall under TRADOC, but no decision is made without Soldiers input. Visit our social media sites and tell us what you think. We'll listen!

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As long as the training remains tough and continues to produce top-notch warriors, we support it 100%!

Charles M. Grist

Thursday, July 8, 2010

War Veterans Get Some Help With PTSD Claims

Here is an article from AOL on recent changes which will make it easier for war veterans to make claims for post-traumatic stress disorder:

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Post-Traumatic Stress Rule Change Could Ease Vets' Access to Benefits

Hundreds of thousands of veterans of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam could be affected by new government rules meant to make it easier for them to apply for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder benefits.

The Veterans Affairs Department regulations would throw out a requirement that vets document the specific events that led to their condition, such as bombings, firefights or artillery shellings, the New York Times reported Thursday. PTSD, as it is called, is characterized by irritability, flashbacks and a lack of emotional responsiveness in the wake of witnessing or experiencing past trauma.

The regulations could take effect next week and may cost the government as much as $5 billion over several years as disability claims are granted, congressional analysts told the Times.

Veterans have complained for decades about the difficulty and amount of time required to track down old combat records. Some veterans groups also say current rules discriminate against those who were deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan -- many of them women -- but did not serve in combat roles.

Under the new rule, the Times said, the government will grant PTSD compensation to veterans who can prove they served in a war zone in a job consistent with the traumatic events they say caused their condition. It would also permit compensation for vets who had a strong reason to fear traumatic events -- or stressors -- even if they didn't actually experience them, the report said. The Defense Department will continue to review all compensation claims submitted to the military branches, yet there are concerns that the liberalization could lead to a flood of fraudulent ones.

But Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a statement to the Times, "This nation has a solemn obligation to the men and women who have honorably served... and suffer from the emotional and often devastating hidden wounds of war. The final regulation goes a long way to ensure that veterans receive the benefits and services they need."
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For further info go to the Veteran's Administration website at .
Charles M. Grist  

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Birthday America!

Another year of freedom has been purchased with the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform who are at war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and lesser known battlefields throughout the world.

As we take time on the Fourth of July to grill those hamburgers and hotdogs, enjoy the beach, marvel at the fireworks, or just float around in the swimming pool, please remember our troops and pray for their safety.

May God continue to bless America.

Charles M. Grist

Friday, July 2, 2010

Traumatic Brain Injury - The Unseen Wound

The following article talks about traumatic brain injuries and the struggles endured by warriors and their families. This article is written by Chelsea Travers of CareMeridian:

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Traumatic Brain Injury & the Military

[Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is all too commonly associated with modern warfare, particularly the War on Terror. Many veterans suffer from these injuries without realizing it, until serious problems develop. Through awareness, we can help our military friends and family members avoid the serious implications of a traumatic brain injury.]

Military men and women are continually involved in situations where risk of injury is high. One silent war wound that often goes unnoticed is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI affects the function of the brain and can often cause life-altering damage ranging from personality and behavioral changes to complete loss of brain function and the ability to communicate. Therefore, some of the affects are not just life-altering, but also life threatening, and wind up requiring, long-term, specialized traumatic brain injury rehabilitation.

According to the Veterans Health Initiative, active male members of the military were hospitalized due to TBI related injuries at a rate of 231 per 100,000. The rate for female members of the military was 150 per 100,000. Based on these statistics, over 4,000 military personnel are hospitalized on average each year for traumatic brain injuries. Some are diagnosed as a mild TBI (aka concussions), while others result in moderate to severe TBI.

Mild TBI refers to loss of consciousness, confusion and/or disorientation for a duration less than 30 minutes. They are often overlooked at the time of injury but in at least 15% of cases can still have effects that last longer than 1 year. Symptoms associated with a mild TBI are fatigue, headaches, impaired vision, memory loss, inability to focus or pay attention, impaired sleep, dizziness, emotional impairment, depression and seizures. They are not always experienced right away and behavior changes are usually noticed by friends and family members before the victim realizes there is a problem. Therefore, it is important that any soldier suffering a physical blow to the head get examined immediately even though they might feel fine at the time of the injury.

The spouse of a veteran returning home from war can play an instrumental role in preventing long term damage stemming from a mild TBI by recognizing the difference between the “normal behavior” of their significant other and the occurrence of the abnormal symptoms listed above. Since spouses often spend more time together on average, they could be considered the first line of defense against long term damage from a TBI. If they understand the symptoms and know what to look for, when they recognize them, they can encourage their husband/wife to seek treatment immediately. Likewise, soldiers returning home should not dismiss any health concerns pointed out to them by those closest to them. Early treatment of a mild TBI will allow a patient to have the best chance at a full recovery and give the entire family an opportunity to maintain (or return to) a normal lifestyle as it was prior to the victim suffering the injury.

Moderate TBI refers to loss of consciousness, confusion and/or disorientation between a range of 30 minutes and 6 hours with a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) of 9 to 12 (15 being the least severe). Severe TBI refers to a brain injury resulting in loss of consciousness, confusion, and/or disorientation for a duration longer than 6 hours and a GCS of 3-8 (1 being the most severe but 3 being the lowest score achievable while considered non-vegetative). The GCS is a cumulative point system that combines three different scores determined by a patient’s eye, verbal and motor responses.

In cases of severe TBI, patients suffer cognitive damage including all of the symptoms of a mild TBI with the additional difficulty with impulsiveness, language processing and executive functions. Severe TBI patients may have difficulty speaking, understanding words, reading or writing and may alter the speed at which they try to communicate. Impairments to their sense of sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste are likely. Seizures can ensue and damage to the individuals’ physical and emotional health can be devastating, including physical paralysis, chronic pain, bowel disorders, malnutrition, menstrual difficulties, anti-social behavior, lack of motivation, aggression, depression and denial.

A patient and the friends/family members of a patient suffering from a severe TBI will undoubtedly experience significant changes to their lifestyle throughout the recovery process and especially in the event that the patient cannot recover. The best way to prevent TBI is through awareness. Recognizing and responding to the early symptoms of a TBI can often aid in preventing further damage caused by the injury. So it is vital that serviceman and their families are aware of TBI so that they can recognize the symptoms and help the victim seek medical treatment if symptoms are present.

Written by Chelsea Travers: Chelsea is a communications representative for CareMeridian, a well-known subacute care facility located throughout the western United States for patients suffering from traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or medical complexities such as neuromuscular or congenital anomalies.

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War veterans (or their families) who believe they may suffer from the untreated effects of traumatic brain injury should contact their local Veterans Hospital, VA clinic, or the Department of Veteran's Affairs as soon as possible.

Charles M. Grist