Why I Do What I Do and You Read It

Ark is a participant in the Cassiopaean Experiment.  He is a physicist, a very bright mathematician and a man who thinks things through very thoroughly and thoughtfully.  You can find more on the Cassiopaean Experiment here:  http://www.cassiopaea.org/cass/

Ark kinda lays things out very well, and it resonates so strongly with me, I have borrowed some of his thoughts, paraphrased them a bit to lay out for you some things to think about.  It is essentially the theme of this blog.  The reason I write as often as I can here.  I just wanted to share it with my readers as I sense it will resonate with you as well and might even stimulate and invigorate you.

Most of what I write about currently is not light, has serious implications and can be a bit overwhelming at times.  Given that, it is also necessary knowledge to impart, especially to those who are in the process of waking up.

While what I write are the facts, it does clearly suppose the outcome or rarely imparts the most important message.  The message is that we all have the power to affect the outcome. Each in their own way and although it may seem insignificant to us, it is important. Therefore, we must all do what we can do, even if it is not actions, but just thoughts.

This is a bird’s eye view and it will be from a distance when details are unimportant.  So I will pick up SOME themes that seem to me important.  There will be several of these themes and they will be discussed separately.

I take it as a hypothesis which perhaps is true and perhaps not, but I take it to be true unless proven otherwise: that for you and for me nothing happens by mere accident.  All that happens has a meaning and purpose.  It is hard work for us to find out what is this purpose exactly and to an extent we are also the creators of this purpose.

Thus it is not an accident that you are who you are.  It is not an accident that I am who I am.  It is not an accident that we have had our lives the way we had.  It could be little bit different, or it is a little bit different in some parallel realities, but we are now concerned about our reality, our present and our future.

Thus every book that you ever read was not an accident and every conversation that you ever had; even those silly books and conversations were lessons.  The same as with me.  We are searching for something and it is clear that we will never find it in this lifetime while alone.

Anyhow we have found each other and there is purpose in that.  I take it as possible that you/me -we are connected to the Creator and are distant parts of it so that we are His/Her tools and we are responsible for something, this something being the whole universe and its fate.

This is not a crazy idea.  It can be explained in completely plain terms.  You/me – we can discover something, a formula or an idea that will change the future development of humanity – even if a little, it will magnify after years and years so that world will be “saved” by it.  This is what we learn from the concepts of chaotic mechanics.  There are systems, if sufficiently complex, such that a little change now leads to a dramatic change after a time.

Now the universe is not only a complex system but also it has intelligence in it.  It may well be that an “intelligent” change that we do now will change completely the fate of the universe.  Instead of dying a thermal death it will flourish forever….

My whole life I have lived with this feeling of responsibility.  It was a recurring theme in my blog. If we accept the hypothesis that nothing happens to US by chance then there is a purpose in this feeling too.

So we you/me are responsible.  We accept it.  That is clear.  Now, we know we have “all the keys”, everybody has the keys.  But in too many these keys are broken, destroyed, desynchronized, detuned and hard or impossible to make them work.  We do not know how many people there are on this earth who have keys and how many of them are already using these keys or assisting other people in using them.  And for a while it does not matter.  All is lesson – we accept it – and we have our homework.  Neither you nor me have a wish “to be told”.

So we have the keys and we were brought together.  If nothing with us happens accidentally, then the fact that you are interested in what you are interested is also not an accident. So what can be a purpose of all that?

A purpose can be that the KNOWLEDGE is not just math and equations but it is also intelligence and consciousness and mind and idea.  Because equations DO NOTHING alone.  There are many that perhaps followed the path of technology and are working underground doing “great physics” or “great math”.  But this is not what we are about.  We do not want to sell our souls like Faustus.  We do not serve the darkness.

Therefore we need knowledge.  And the more knowledge we have the more protected we are.  This point is again easily understood in plain terms.  We clearly are not after power.  Neither do we want to take power FROM somebody. Our goal is all different.  We have our personal mission to fulfill: External dark forces being dispersed by multiplicity of our frequencies – so to say.

Because it is all knowledge, pieces of knowledge from here and there.  We are not going use or try to use this knowledge.  But somehow it is necessary for us to know this so as to find out the best possible use of this knowledge.

I think this IS true that the only limits that we find are those imposed by our own minds and thinking habits.  Thus we must be more and more bold in our thinking.  On the other hand we need always to go step by step.  Otherwise there is danger.

Is the life sufficiently long?  We take it as a working hypothesis that yes, it is.  Because it depends only on us how long it is going to be.  There is a great work that is in front of us and this work includes rethinking and rearranging our entire structure of everything.  We have something different in our minds because we are service-men here for the Creator, to whom we return.

When one is on a quest for true learning and higher knowledge, there are no “missing points,” only those not yet discovered!  “If one has the will of a Lion, one does not have the fate of a mouse!”

The Final Assault on Personal and Sovereign Wealth Has Begun

I have chronicled how our financial systems and our sovereign wealth funds are be attacked and pillaged by the PTB.  I have referred to Credit Derivatives and Repos as weapons of mass destruction, and indeed as we see now surfacing from the Goldman Sachs hearings just how devastating these weapons have been in bringing down the economy.  Goldman alone made over $4 Trillion in the last five years.

But now, with governments on their knees on both sides of the Atlantic, the final assault has begun.  There will be some who say I am an alarmist.  I am naive and in my ignorance I just don’t understand the complexities of world finance. Really?  I don’t think so.

One only has to watch from a longer perspective like I have since the assault began on Argentina in 2002.  This has been well planned, methodical, and extremely effective in results.  One fact should be kept in clear perspective.  165 of the world’s central banks are privately owned by the Rothschild family.  Remember this very clearly when you listen to all of the rhetoric.  This point cannot be over-emphasized.

The EU is going down this summer.  In watching the attack, one only has to realize the timing of certain events.  The idea is not having the general public “catch on”.  But for example, look at the timing of the Standards and Poor’s downgrading of Greek and Spanish bonds in relationship to the discussions of the EU ministers on developing a bailout plan for Greece.  I don’t think that is coincidence and it was a bucket of cold water on the whole process and sent waves of concern through the markets. Waves like for the first time since WWII that the German bond auction was not fully subscribed.

In a speech before the elitist Council on Foreign Relations organization in New York earlier this week, President of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet called for the imposition of global governance to be bossed by the G20 and the corrupt Bank of International Settlements in the name of safeguarding the global economy.

In an address entitled “Global Governance Today,” Trichet proclaims how the elite need to impose “A set of rules, institutions, informal groupings and cooperation mechanisms that we call “global governance”. During the course of the speech, Trichet uses the term “global governance” well over a dozen times, outlining how “global governance is of the essence” to avoid another financial crisis.

A full transcript of the speech was also carried by the Bank for International Settlements, an international organization of central banks that has constantly lobbied for a centralized global currency to replace that of nation states. Trichet praises the BIS as being “ahead of the curve” in dealing with the financial crisis during the speech.

Essentially his conclusions were as follows:


In conclusion I would like to stress four points.

First, global governance is of the essence to improve decisively the resilience of the global financial system. We avoided a major depression but it was a close call. Governments had to support the financial sector by putting at risk taxpayers’ money for the equivalent of around 25 % of GDP on both sides of the Atlantic. This as unprecedented. I am convinced that, if we do not reinforce significantly the resilience of the financial system, our democracies will not accept for a second time such a very large scale of rescue operation.

Second, a characteristic of the recent turbulences is not only that they [governments] displayed a high level of unpredictability but also an extreme rapidity in the succession of events characterizing the unfolding of the crisis. Global governance today must demonstrate a capacity to coordinate with agility and, where necessary, to decide extremely swiftly. This is also unprecedented.

Third, the crisis has had some paradoxical effects: on the one hand it has unleashed a tendency to reengage in financial nationalism if not mercantilism; on the other hand it had contributed to the recognition that a very high degree of interdependencies between economies called for a much higher level of cooperation. These two opposing forces are presently competing. It is imperative that effective global governance preserve the level playing field which is indispensable to foster global stability and prosperity. It is a major challenge. Both sides of the Atlantic have a very important responsibility in this respect in many domains, in particular in prudential and accounting rules.

And fourth, as we have seen the crisis has driven an historic change in the framework of global governance. In my view this transformation was overdue. But there are two immediate reasons for this change. One is positive: the emerging economies are now economically and financially so important and systemically so influential that they must have a full and proper ownership of global governance. But the second reason is negative: the industrialized countries have proven particularly clumsy in their handling of global finance before the crisis at the time when their responsibility in global governance was obviously overwhelming. There was therefore no reason to confirm their exclusive prime responsibility. This calls for the industrialized countries to be now particularly irreproachable in the delivery of their present and future contribution to the stability and prosperity of the global economy within the new, more inclusive framework.”

The primary outfit that will boss the institutions of global governance, according to Trichet, is the Global Economy Meeting (GEM), which regularly meets at the BIS headquarters in Basel. This group, states Trichet, “has become the prime group for global governance among central banks”. The GEM is basically a policy steering committee under the umbrella of the Bank for International Settlements.

The BIS is a branch of the of the Bretton-Woods International Financial architecture and closely allied with the Bilderberg Group. It is controlled by an inner elite that represents all the world’s major central banking institutions. John Maynard Keynes, perhaps the most influential economist of all time, wanted it closed down as it was used to launder money for the Nazis during World War II.

Financial website Investors Insight describe the BIS as “the most powerful bank you’ve never heard of,” labeling it “the most powerful financial institution on earth”.

The bank wields power through its control of vast amounts of global currencies. The BIS controls no less than 7% of the world’s available foreign exchange funds, as well as owning 712 tons of gold bullion.

“By controlling foreign exchange currency, plus gold, the BIS can go a long way toward determining the economic conditions in any given country,” writes Doug Casey. “Remember that the next time Ben Bernanke or European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet announces an interest rate hike. You can bet it didn’t happen without the concurrence of the BIS Board.” The BIS is basically a huge slush fund for global government through which secret transfers of wealth from citizens are surreptitiously handed to the IMF.

“For example, U.S. taxpayer monies can be passed through BIS to the IMF and from there anywhere. In essence, the BIS launders the money, since there is no specific accounting of where particular deposits came from and where they went,” writes Casey.

The Council On Foreign Relations comprises of influential elitists and powerbrokers from all sectors of government, business, academia and the media. It is the public face of the more secretive Bilderberg Group. The CFR only recruits members sympathetic to its agenda for global government and the elimination of U.S. sovereignty.

The scope of the CFR’s mission was best encapsulated by former Deputy Secretary of State under Clinton and CFR luminary Strobe Talbott, who told Time Magazine in July 1992, “In the next century, nations as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority. National sovereignty wasn’t such a great idea after all.”

The next step is to eliminate all paper money.  Everything will go electronic.  In the US this is already being imposed as a beta test with social security and disability benefits.  By 2013, no one will get their money, just credits and electronic transfer period.

My suggestion is to get hold of and keep as many hard assets as you can and you better start now as time is very short, very short indeed.

Watching the Slow Motion Implosion

When you take all of the events occurring right now, both on the financial front and the social front globally, one can easily get the sense you are watching a slow motion implosion of societal structures. The question becomes how to react to the events. On the one hand, do you get involved, act, react, prepare, declare, etc. or do you just observe and stay detached. I think anyone who is awake is asking these types of questions at the moment.

From a financial perspective, the situation in Europe I fear is going to spread like wildfire in the next few months.  There are many reasons for this, but mostly it is that those who “know” the truth have not been truthful with the general public.  Their reasoning for this is that they don’t want to precipitate a general panic, but the truth is they are trying to save their butts from an angry mob.

The events, however, are overwhelming them and the next few weeks these events are going to spiral out of control.  What events you ask? consider these most recent revelations.

Greece will need financial assistance amounting to between €100-120bn over the next three years, German parliamentarians claimed on Wednesday after meeting Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank. They said that the €45bn currently proposed as a rescue package of loans from the IMF and other members of the eurozone was only enough for the first year of support. Yields on two-year Greek bonds rose to above 16 per cent on Wednesday amid growing nervousness about the state of the country’s deteriorating public finances.

When you consider these kinds of numbers, the reality dictates these are not doable in any fashion.  Greece could not devise draconian enough austerity plans to address this kind of debt and the supporting eurozone could not possibly support such an effort. I say this because Greece is not an isolated case given the situations which are similar in Spain, Portugal, Italy and for that matter the UK as well. “It’s not a question of the danger of contagion; contagion has already happened,” Angel Gurría told Bloomberg. “This is like Ebola. When you realise you have it you have to cut your leg off in order to survive.”

Credit rating agencies have been criticized for their role in the financial crisis, but their views are still closely watched by investors anxious about the deteriorating public finances of some of the world’s most heavily indebted countries. S&P’s announcement hit Spain’s stocks and bonds. Spanish 10-year bond yields, which have an inverse relationship with prices, rose to 4.127 per cent, while the stock market tumbled 3 per cent. Greek bond prices fell further in the wake of Tuesday’s downgrade of Greece’s credit rating to junk status by S&P. Ten-year bond yields jumped to 9.91 per cent. The euro was down 0.1 per cent at $1.3135, its lowest since April 2009.

In the UK, the political candidates are debating and without exception they are lying to the public as to the extent and nature of UK national debt.  At best they are representing the issue at 25% of reality.  They cannot bring themselves to even utter the truth about what austerity measures will be required for fear of evoking Greek like riots in Britain.  The truth is they know that in this case the truth would not set them free but exactly the opposite, it would land them in jail or worse on the pointy end of a pitchfork.

Social unrest combined with these financial realities is beginning to spread world-wide as well.  These issues tend to simmer for a period and then rapidly come to a boil.  We are seeing just this in Thailand, the Ukraine, Greece and now I fear the US.  Politicians and talking heads tend to fuel the fires for their own selfish purposes which does not help the situation.

The immigration issues in the US are a prime example of how irresponsible political leaders are acting for what they perceive as political positioning.  Arizona’s politicians managed to guide frustrations into an absurd legislative action that can only bring riots and bloodshed.  At the core of the issue when examined with the cool head is how NAFTA and the impacts of NAFTA were not planned for and dealt with as they unfolded.  NAFTA created a situation in Arizona where agricultural products from Arizona were allowed to be imported into Mexico cheaper than Mexicans could produce the products and import them into the US.  These activities have increased by over 30% in the last three years. http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Arizona/Publications/Crops/cur-crop.pdf. Over 2,000,000 small farmers in Mexico were displaced by these facts.  However, Arizona imported those farmers to work the fields in Arizona to deal with the rapid increase in cheap labor demand.  Now the social issues are coming home to roost. We see this spilling over into other states like Texas, California, and New Mexico.

Instead of politicians dealing with these facts and the cause and effect elements of the problem, they choose instead to fuel the emotional aspects of the issues for political gain.  They are however, creating a maelstrom of events like is very likely to spiral out of control.  What we need right now is calm honest debate of the cause and effects of the situation on the border.  We need an honest assessment of all of the factors that have created the tension and most of all we need to deal with issues as partners, not enemies.  There is enough stress and frustation on both sides of the border. The apartheid approach simply will not work.

Globally putting all these things together as a giant tapestry, we certainly look like we are heading into the Summer of Hell.  Maybe we ought not take ourselves so seriously.  Maybe we ought to look at the messes we are in and chuckle at how ignorant we can be, and then sit down and figure our way out of this mess.  That is the one thing I think is gravely missing here.  It is our sense of humor and a good belly laugh.  I can hope.

Here’s Uncle Willy’s Thought for the Day:

Right on Schedule Here Comes the Summer of Hell

In previous articles I have been chronicling how the US government seems to be making big plans to deploy troops on US soil and also to “house” a lot of Americans in the so-called FEMA camps.  At first when I first started to investigate these stories, I really thought it was mostly originating from conspiracy nuts and there wasn’t much to it.  However, I soon began to realize this was not paranoid conspiracy whackos over reacting to sound government planning.  Indeed, the government seems to be making major plans of some sort to deploy troops on US soil in response to some future event.

In the interest of keeping that story updated, there have been recent further activities that I feel I must bring to the attention of my readers.  On the predictive linguistics side, there is strong indication of some sort of major internal US event in the November timeframe of this year.  Also since I last updated this storyline, talk of revolution not just on a domestic basis, but a global basis has been continually increasing in frequency.  George Ure over at Urbansurvival.Com coined the phrase “GLOBEREV”.

First, a little background is provided for those of you who don’t follow the story closely. U.S. Northern Command was formed in 2002.  Here, is their own words, from their site is their mission:

U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) was established Oct. 1, 2002 to provide command and control of Department of Defense (DOD) homeland defense efforts and to coordinate defense support of civil authorities. USNORTHCOM defends America’s homeland — protecting our people, national power, and freedom of action.

USNORTHCOM’s specific mission:

USNORTHCOM anticipates and conducts Homeland Defense and Civil Support operations within the assigned area of responsibility to defend, protect, and secure the United States and its interests

USNORTHCOM’s AOR includes air, land and sea approaches and encompasses the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the surrounding water out to approximately 500 nautical miles. It also includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Straits of Florida, portions of the Caribbean region to include The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The commander of USNORTHCOM is responsible for theater security cooperation with Canada, Mexico, and The Bahamas.

USNORTHCOM consolidates under a single unified command existing missions that were previously executed by other DOD organizations. This provides unity of command, which is critical to mission accomplishment.

USNORTHCOM plans, organizes and executes homeland defense and civil support missions, but has few permanently assigned forces. The command is assigned forces whenever necessary to execute missions, as ordered by the president or secretary of defense.

Civil service employees and uniformed members representing all service branches work at USNORTHCOM’s headquarters located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The commander of USNORTHCOM also commands the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), a bi-national command responsible for aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning for Canada, Alaska and the continental United States.

USNORTHCOM’s civil support mission includes domestic disaster relief operations that occur during fires, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. Support also includes counter-drug operations and managing the consequences of a terrorist event employing a weapon of mass destruction. The command provides assistance to a Primary Agency when tasked by DOD. Per the Posse Comitatus Act, military forces can provide civil support, but cannot become directly involved in law enforcement.

In providing civil support, USNORTHCOM generally operates through established Joint Task Forces subordinate to the command. An emergency must exceed the capabilities of local, state and federal agencies before USNORTHCOM becomes involved. In most cases, support will be limited, localized and specific. When the scope of the disaster is reduced to the point that the Primary Agency can again assume full control and management without military assistance, USNORTHCOM will exit, leaving the on-scene experts to finish the job.

The last two paragraphs of this mission statement is interesting in that they acknowledge the Posse Comitatus Act and are very careful to describe when they can circumvent that act.  In a state of presidential declared national state of emergency.  President Obama declared that state of emergency during the so-called swine flu epidemic and has NOT rescinded that order since.

USNORTHCOM started out with 20,000 troops, then late last fall, its troop strength grew to 60,000 troops and we began to see military type vehicles with UN type markings being deployed all over the US.  They were confirmed spotted in Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. Now today the following emerges:

Source: Examiner

In October of this year, one month prior to the November midterm elections, a special army unit known as ‘Consequence Management Response Force’ will be ready for deployment on American soil if so ordered by the President.

The special force, which is the new name being given to the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry, has been training at Fort Stewart, Georgia and is composed of 80,000 troops.

According to the Army Times,

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack. The key phrase is ‘may be called upon to help with civil unrest.’

A local radio talk show host reported that he had been in contact with a member of the military.  This military source stated that the armed forces have been alerted to the strong possibility that civil unrest may occur in the United States this summer, prior to the midterm elections of 2010.

The source described this as ‘our long, hot summer of discontent’ that could be eerily reminiscent of the summer of 1968 when riots broke out in many of our largest cities.

However, the summer of 2010 could well be much worse due to the players involved.  In 1968 the major players were war protesters.  This time, the outrage simmering beneath the surface of American society involves a broad cross-section of the heartland, and most of them are heavily armed.

It is highly unlikely that these citizens would ever initiate armed conflict of any kind.  In their view, gun rights are for self-defense–and for defense against tyrannical government, which our Founders regarded as the most dangerous force on earth.

However, it has become clear that other groups may well initiate violence in order to start an ‘incident’ that would give Congress a reason to implement martial law, confiscate the citizens’ guns, enforce curfews, and suspend all future elections until such time as it is deemed ‘safe’ to proceed with human liberty as encapsulated in the right to vote.

Tea Party members, for example, have been warned in recent days that members of Andy Stern’s SEIU union and members of the organization formerly known as ACORN plan to infiltrate Tea Party gatherings in order to incite some sort of incident that could result in armed conflict.

To what extent would soldiers use deadly force during such ‘civil unrest’ should the Consequence Management Response Team be utilized?  During the anti-war riots of the 1960s they killed student protesters.  What about now?

The military source cited by the radio host today was asked this very question.  He would merely say that the culture of the U.S. military is changing–half support Obama and the other half are dead-set against him. His conclusion?  There is no way to know for sure if they would obey an order to open fire on ordinary citizens.

When you consider the current situation in Thailand or Greece for example, and look at the events unfolding in Kyrgyzstan or today in the Ukraine one has to wonder what is really going on and who is really behind these efforts.  Granted the economic crisis worldwide has caused a lot of pressure and strain, but I believe there is much more to this story than we know.

The Founders insisted that standing armies were never to be used against American citizens on our own soil, no matter what violations of this principle have occurred in the years following.  In the spirit of the Patriots and of real journalists government must be questioned constantly and held to intense scrutiny in order to preserve liberty.

Some of the more disturbing facts relate to exactly what the troops at USNOTHCOM are training for in getting ready for the Summer of Hell.  According to Northern Command‘s Web site, the CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force is a team that will ultimately number about 4,700 personnel from the different military branches that would deploy as the Department of Defense’s initial response force.

Its capabilities include search and rescue, decontamination, medical, aviation, communications and logistical support. Each CCMRF will be composed of three functional task forces — Task Force Operations, Task Force Medical and Task Force Aviation — that have individual operational focus and mission skills, the Web site says. The Army says the unit would be deployed to help local, state or federal agencies deal with such incidents, not take the lead. The law enforcement-type training is not connected to its new mission, it says.

Given these recent activities and keeping to my belief that MSM is not reporting this or underreporting this, I think everybody ought to start paying real close attention to these issues.  The CBRNE side of the equation is most disconcerting and when we look at the rhetoric around a possible Israeli-Iranian conflict brewing and that relates to nuclear weapons and capabilities things start to get a little on the scary side.

Also, as I have been consistently saying, we need to tone down the armed citizenry rhetoric and the Tea Party folks really need to take the frontline responsibility in this arena.  If they are who they say they are..true patriots, then they would not precipitate actions that could lead to martial law and all that is associated with that implication. Stay out of the fray, hunker down and most importantly, let your politicians know we are not going to allow anarchy to occur in our streets, maybe in our CONgress, but not our streets.

A Deeper Look at Some Disturbing Math

Last week, I did an article concerning the plight of a lot of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, and for that matter and 35 years later from Vietnam.  The real story, as I dug further,  is even worse than I imagined and none of it is being elevated in MSM. The truth is we are losing more soldiers to suicide on a daily basis after they return than we are losing soldiers on the battle field.  On average 18 per day, every day!  There are, on average, 30 attempted suicides by returning veterans every day. The suicide rate among war veterans is extraordinary, new data reveals reported by The Army Times .

“Of the more than 30,000 suicides in this country each year, fully 20 percent of them are acts by veterans,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki at a VA-sponsored suicide prevention conference in January, Inter Press Service reported.

The Times noted that “In general, VA officials said, women attempt suicide more often, but men are more likely to succeed in the attempt.” The report cites access to health care and age — younger veterans are less likely to try — as two major factors in the suicide rate, and notes that the VA is seeking to strengthen its suicide prevention programs.

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, “Roughly 56 percent of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 12.8 percent and 15.4 percent of the U.S. population respectively.” The struggle among veterans to return to everyday life has been documented over the years.

As a veteran of the Vietnam War and a multiple tour medic, I struggled with my demons for several years.  I never sought help or treatment, as so many of us did not.  Any soldier will tell you that “civilians” simply do not have a frame of reference to even begin to understand what a soldier is even coping with as he or she struggles to re-assimilate into civilian society.  Yes friends and family can be sympathetic and empathetic, but they have no frame of reference to say “I understand what you are going through.”

I have had a sense however, that the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were having even a rougher go of it than my alumni from Vietnam because of two factors.  First, there are a lot higher number of “drafted soldiers” in these campaigns.  No, there isn’t a draft, but so many people were placed into active combat duty because they were serving in the reserves, more than in any other war.

Secondly, there are so many older troops.  These are men and women who are not single, but have families, jobs and careers.  Suddenly they have been yanked from their lives and do three or four tours in combat zones.  Even the term “combat zones” have a very different meaning in these campaigns.  At least in Vietnam, we had some semblance of front lines and combat zones, but not in these campaigns.  No chance to hunker in a “hooch” and get a little R&R.  It is 24/7 on your toes in these campaigns.  The numbers are really showing it too.

The Associated Press reported in November 2007 that one in four homeless people across the nation is likely to be a veteran, even though veterans constitute a mere 11 percent of overall adults in the United States.  “And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans,” AP added. “Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.” Homelessness among women who served in Afghanistan and Iraq is on the rise.

The Boston Globe reported last year that “number of female service members who have become homeless after leaving the military has jumped dramatically in recent years.” One in ten homeless veterans under 45 years of age is a woman, statistics showed in July of 2009. “Some of the first homeless vets that walked into our office were single moms,” Paul Rieckhoff, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s executive director and founder, told the Globe.

Troubling new data show there is an average of 950 suicide attempts each month by veterans who are receiving some type of treatment from the Veterans Affairs Department. Seven percent of the attempts are successful, and 11 percent of those who don’t succeed on the first attempt try again within nine months. The numbers, which come at a time when VA is strengthening its suicide prevention programs, show about 18 veteran suicides a day, about five by veterans who are receiving VA care.

Access to care appears to be a key factor, officials said, noting that once a veteran is inside the VA care program, screening programs are in place to identify those with problems, and special efforts are made to track those considered at high risk, such as monitoring whether they are keeping appointments.

A key part of the new data shows the suicide rate is lower for veterans aged 18 to 29 who are using VA health care services than those who are not. That leads VA officials to believe that about 250 lives have been saved each year as a result of VA treatment. VA’s suicide hotline has been receiving about 10,000 calls a month from current and former service members. The number is 1-800-273-8255. Service members and veterans should push 1 for veterans’ services.  Dr. Janet Kemp, VA’s national suicide prevention coordinator, credits the hotline with rescuing 7,000 veterans who were in the act of suicide — in addition to referrals, counseling and other help.

”We have now nearly two million vets of Iraq and Afghanistan and we still haven’t seen the type of mobilization of resources necessary to handle an epidemic of veteran suicides,” Aaron Glantz, an editor at New America Media editor and author of “The War Comes Home”, told IPS.  ”With [President Barack] Obama surging in Afghanistan coupled with his unwillingness to withdraw speedily from Iraq, it means we have more veterans who have served more and more tours and as a result we have an escalating number of people coming home with PTSD, depression and other mental health issues,” Glantz continued.

Health officials have pointed to the multiple tours of duty served by many U.S. soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq as one of the stresses placed on military personnel that differs from previous wars fought by the U.S.  “The unfortunate truth is that the real challenge begins when these service men and women return home and readjust to day-to-day life,” said Rep. Michael McMahon, co-founder of the Congressional Invisible Wounds Caucus.

“The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs must be prepared with the appropriate staff and funding to conduct post-deployment psychological screenings with a mental health professional for all service men and women,” he said. “Evidently, the paper questionnaires currently in use simply do not suffice. How many more young men and women must die before we provide the necessary mental health care?”  The VA estimated that in 2005, the suicide rate per 100,000 veterans among men ages 18-29 was 44.99, but jumped to 56.77 in 2007.

FAQ about Homeless Veterans

Who are homeless veterans?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) states the nation’s homeless veterans are predominantly male, with roughly five percent being female. The majority of them are single; come from urban areas; and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders. About one-third of the adult homeless population are veterans.

America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF/OIF), and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. Nearly half of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era. Two-thirds served our country for at least three years, and one-third were stationed in a war zone.

How many homeless veterans are there?

Although flawless counts are impossible to come by – the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty – VA estimates that 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness. Only eight percent of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly one-fifth of the homeless population are veterans.

Why are veterans homeless?

In addition to the complex set of factors influencing all homelessness – extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income and access to health care – a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse, which are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.

A top priority for homeless veterans is secure, safe, clean housing that offers a supportive environment free of drugs and alcohol. Although “most homeless people are single, unaffiliated men… most housing money in existing federal homelessness programs, in contrast, is devoted to helping homeless families or homeless women with dependant children,” as is stated in the study “Is Homelessness a Housing Problem?” (Understanding Homelessness: New Policy and Research Perspectives, Fannie Mae Foundation, 1997).

Doesn’t VA take care of homeless veterans?

To a certain extent, yes, but VA’s specialized homeless programs served more than 92,000 veterans in 2009, which is highly commendable. This still leaves well over 100,000 more veterans, however, who must seek assistance from local government agencies and community- and faith-based service organizations.

Since 1987, VA’s programs for homeless veterans have emphasized collaboration with such community service providers to help expand services to more veterans in crisis. These partnerships are credited with reducing the number of homeless veterans by more than half over the past six years. More information about VA homeless programs and initiatives can be found here.

What services do veterans need?

Veterans need a coordinated effort that provides secure housing, nutritional meals, basic physical health care, substance abuse care and aftercare, mental health counseling, personal development and empowerment. Additionally, veterans need job assessment, training and placement assistance. NCHV strongly believes that all programs to assist homeless veterans must focus on helping them obtain and sustain employment.

What seems to work best?

The most effective programs for homeless and at-risk veterans are community-based, nonprofit, “veterans helping veterans” groups. Programs that seem to work best feature transitional housing with the camaraderie of living in structured, substance-free environments with fellow veterans who are succeeding at bettering themselves.

Government money, while important, is currently limited, and available services are often at capacity. It is critical, therefore, that community groups reach out to help provide the support, resources and opportunities most Americans take for granted: housing, employment and health care.

VA has approximately 4,000 agreements with community partners nationwide. These types of partnerships have demonstrated that groups are most successful when they work in collaboration with federal, state and local government agencies; other homeless providers; and veteran service organizations. Veterans who participate in these collaborative programs are afforded more services and have higher chances of becoming tax-paying, productive citizens again.

These numbers are so disturbing that we all have to intervene.  Of all of the issues we are facing as a nation, this issue should have a top priority.  They are our sons and daughters.  As families, I know that they also are at a loose as to how to deal with the problem.  But this definitely an issue we can deal with in our local communities.  We just have to care and then find out how to act. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans suggests the following guidelines.

What can I do?

  • Determine the need in your community. Visit with homeless veteran providers. Contact your mayor’s office for a list of providers, or search the NCHV database.
  • Involve others. If you are not already part of an organization, align yourself with a few other people who are interested in attacking this issue.
  • Participate in local homeless coalitions. Chances are, there is one in your community. If not, this could be the time to bring people together around this critical need.
  • Make a donation to your local homeless veteran provider.
  • Contact your elected officials. Discuss what is being done in your community for homeless veterans.

In a world where we seem insignificant and helpless most of the time to affect a positive outcome, this is one area where we are empowered.  Get to know the situation in your community. Find out how you can volunteer.  My personal example was to identify the homeless veterans in our area.  The next step was to insure they are got enrolled for VA care.  Then it was to make sure they sought the care they needed.  We did a few fund raisers and bought a van to make sure they all could have transportation to the VA hospital.  We were just a few folks who cared, but I think we made a big difference in people’s lives.  You can do the same.

It is Now Time for DOJ Step Up to Their Responsibility

In the past week I have written “tough-in-cheek” for some old west justice concerning the current financial crisis and those responsible for creating it.  I have suggested that the principles of these banks and hedge funds were DIRECTLY responsible, but they would offer up underlings, like Fabulous Fab, as sacrificial lambs.  Indeed we now see the principles of Goldman Sachs doing just that with statements coming from Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein saying that the SEC charges are baseless and if there is substance to them it was not and has never been the policy of Goldman yadda yadda yadda.

The fact of the matter is I am sure that these guys at the top were very shrewd to never put anything in writing that would condone and tie them to the actions of Fabulous Fab and Paulson, but the bonus plans and structures that were put into place by the guys like Blankfein certainly condoned and demanded those activities and in fact, encouraged them and for that matter still does.

This is why it is time to move the investigation of these practices from a private self-regulatory agency like the SEC and move the investigations into the Department of Justice.  President Obama’s speech made it clear that while he is asking for the cooperation of the financial community as the American thing to do, his reforms are silent on what CRIMINAL investigations would and should be launched.

It is true that there is still a great fear, and I think intimidation from the financial community to government to say the situation is still too volatile and unstable to launch such investigations as there still is a high risk of the financial system collapsing.  I think this is a delay tactic while the top dogs cover their butts move.  The financial PTB do not spend the resources they are with the brigades of lobbyists and money if there is nothing criminal there.  We truly need to give some “bubba time” to guys like Blankfein to really “fix” the system.  I am not the only one who feels this way.  Consider the following:

Source: Washington’s Blog

University of Texas economics professor James K. Galbraith previously said that fraud caused the financial crisis: You had fraud in the origination of the mortgages, fraud in the underwriting, fraud in the ratings agencies.

Senator Kaufman said last month: Fraud and potential criminal conduct were at the heart of the financial crisis. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur says that there was rampant fraud leading up to the crash (see this and this). TARP overseer Elizabeth Warren suspects fraud as the cause of the crisis. Yves Smith has shown that fraud largely caused the subprime crisis. Janet Tavakoli says that rampant fraud and Ponzi schemes caused the financial crisis.

According to economist Max Wolff: The securitization process worked by “packag(ing), sell(ing), repack(aging) and resell(ing) mortages making what was a small housing bubble, a gigantic (one) and making what became an American financial problem very much a global” one by selling mortgage bundles worldwide “without full disclosure of the lack of underlying assets or risks.”

Buyers accepted them on good faith, failed in their due diligence, and rating agencies were negligent, even criminal, in overvaluing and endorsing junk assets that they knew were high-risk or toxic. “The whole process was corrupt at its core.”

William Black – professor of economics and law, and former head of prosecution during the S&L crisis – says that massive fraud by is what caused this economic crisis. Specifically, he says that companies, auditors, rating agencies and regulators all committed fraud which helped blow the bubble and sowed the seeds of the inevitable crash. And see this. Black and economist Simon Johnson also state that the banks committed fraud by making loans to people that they knew would default, to make huge profits during the boom, knowing that the taxpayers would bail them out when things went bust.

As Black told Congress last Tuesday: Let’s start with the repos. We have known since the Enron in 2001 that this is a common scam, in which every major bank that was approached by Enron agreed to help them deceive creditors and investors by doing these kind of transactions.

And so what happened? There was a proposal in 2004 to stop it. And the regulatory heads — there was an interagency effort — killed it. They came out with something pathetic in 2006, and stalled its implication until 2007, but it’s meaningless.

We have known for decades that these are frauds. We have known for a decade how to stop them. All of the major regulatory agencies were complicit in that statement, in destroying it. We have a self-fulfilling policy of regulatory failure because of the leadership in this era.

We have the Fed, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, finding that this is three card Monty. Well what would you do, as a regulator, if you knew that one of the largest enterprises in the world, when the nation is on the brink of economic collapse, is engaged in fraud, three card Monty? Would you continue business as usual? That’s what was done.

So who should we talk to about fixing the economic crisis? Not the economists. As economist James Galbraith told Dan Froomkin this week: “Once you understand the implications of massively fraudulent practices, it changes the professional community that has the principal say about interpreting the crisis.”

Economists, he said, should move into the background — and “criminologists to the forefront.” Bill Black agrees: Criminologists, Black said, are trained to identify the environments that produce epidemics of fraud — and in the case of the financial crisis, the culprit is obvious. “We’re looking at incentive structures,” he told HuffPost. “Not people suddenly becoming evil. Not people suddenly becoming crazy. But people reacting to perverse incentive structures.”

CEOs can’t send out a memo telling their front-line professionals to commit fraud, “but you can send the same message with your compensations system, and you can do it without going to jail,” Black said. Criminologists ask “fundamentally different types of question” than the ones being asked.

“First we ask: Does this business activity, the way they’re conducting it, make any sense for an honest firm? And we see many activities that make no sense for an honest firm.” One example is the “liar’s loans.” With something like 90 percent of them turning out to be fraudulent, they are not profitable loans to make — unless you’re getting paid based on volume, and unless the idea is to sell them off to someone else.

“We also ask: How it is possible that they were able to sell this stuff?” When it comes to toxic assets — or securities built on top of them — “all standard economic explanations say it should have been impossible to sell them.” The answer, in this crisis, is “the financial version of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” Black said. Incentives for short-term profits and the resulting bonuses were so great that buyers preferred booking the revenue than looking too closely at what they were buying.

Black is concerned that the financial legislation currently being debated on Capitol Hill doesn’t change the rules enough. He’s concerned about loopholes in derivative regulation and thinks that demanding “skin in the game” won’t actually help curb fraud. Yes, “skin in the game” means that companies could go bankrupt if they place bad bets. But, he said. “if the corporation gets destroyed, that’s not a failure of the fraud scheme.” Former Lehman Brother CEO Richard Fuld, for instance, “walked away with hundreds of millions of net worth that would never have been created but for the fraud.”

Black would like to see reform that ends regulatory black holes and that “requires not just rules” but approving regulators with teeth, to enforce them. Regulators should not be cozy with the entities they regulate; they should be skeptical. “Some of us have to stay skeptical, so that everyone else can trust,” he said.

He also thinks it’s important to address compensation — both for executives and professionals. Black isn’t calling for limits on executive pay, just for executives to keep their own promises to make bonuses based on long-term success, rather than short term. And he means really long-term. “The big bonuses, they come after 10 years, when they show it’s real,” Black said.

“Professional compensation has to be changed to prevent conflicts of interest,” he said. Appraisers, accountants, ratings agencies and the like need to be rewarded for accuracy rather than amenability. Right now, Black said, “cheaters prosper.”

This is why it is time for the regulators to step to the second chair and the Department of Justice to take first chair from this point forward.  If they don’t records will be destroyed, strategies will be developed to insure that criminal investigations will never collect the necessary evidence to bring criminal charges.  Everything here is backwards.  In most cases the successful prosecution of criminal charges LEADS to the civil suits that follow and the successful civil suits allocate the damages and decide the restitution that is appropriate.  Why is it different for these guys?  Good question, huh?

Why Do We Remain Asleep and Oblivious to Our Surroundings?

The world is going through massive changes.  Information overload, exponential increases in natural phenomena such as earthquakes and volcanoes, weather changes that are extreme, collapses of economies and age-old institutions like the Catholic church and we do nothing. In our local communities our schools are deteriorating, our homes are being emptied by banksters and our police, fire departments, and hospitals are collapsing, and we do nothing.  Our political system is in shambles and our banking system is corrupt beyond description, and we do nothing.  We are fighting wars in places we have no idea about the local cultures and customs against enemies that have no faces.  All along subjecting our brightest and best youth to prolonged combat, with no clear directive or outcome, and we say nothing.

I have written much in this blog about the need to wake up and question the things around us.  I have encouraged us all to get involved again in meaningful ways as it relates to our political process. I have tried to educate and inform my fellow friends in life to get off their butts and do anything.  To demand the facts and to know the truth.  There is no such thing as a little act or insignificant effort.  But still I get the sense that not many are listening and those that are listening are not doing much more.  Why?

Machiavelli observed that religion and its teachings of uncritical faith, hope, charity, love, humility and patience under suffering were factors that render men weak and cause them to care less about worldly and political things, and thus they will turn political power over to wicked men who are not influenced by such ideals (though they may easily pretend to be). Of course, the real trick is to convince people that the “afterlife” is the only thing worth thinking about, and it is to this end that the monotheistic religions have been formulated. It is also to this end that many of the New Age beliefs and “formulations” of the “subjective truths” seem to have been engineered. All you have to do is have faith or meditate so as to feel “love” for everything and everybody. Nothing is said about the day by day struggle, and the necessity for action that could contribute to different, positive outcome in the present objective reality in which we live and move and have our being. The future is forged in the present by what we DO. The Butterfly Effect.

The “hard sciences” are generally based on concepts which can be expressed concisely and elegantly in mathematics. They have exerted all their efforts to construct a physical universe of magnificent calculations and hypotheses. This mathematical universe is often unspeakably abstract, composed of symbols that express a physical reality beyond the realm of common thought, and yet, if you ask any of them “why?” you probably won’t get an answer. Science is supposed to tell us what and how and where and, sometimes, even when – but they don’t have much to say about who and how.

Maybe that is why we are experiencing what we are experiencing at this juncture. We are far off course. Aboriginal religions among American Indians, African tribes and Aborigines seem to have maintained an understanding of the who, how, and why.  But they have been pushed so far into the backwaters of modern society that their understanding is all but lost.

I have spent the last 30 years searching and pondering just those questions.  I have plowed literally through hundreds of thousands of pages of ancient texts, studied every religion, experienced rituals, and yes even participated in some what I would call supernatural experiences. Through it all, I must say I have learned how easy it is to want to grab onto a single concept or believe and say Eureka! This is it.

However, over time you learn that everything you learn is in the context only of what you have experienced till that moment, and at the very next moment you will perceive a wider horizon.  With that said, however, some things are certain.  Well at least as certain as is allowable in a universe that operates on the chaos theory.   What is certain is that YOU matter. Your thoughts and your actions are creating the future.  Not just your future, but the future of everything everywhere. I also know, not believe, that there are only two personality types to all the sentient beings in the universe, those who are in service to themselves and those who are in service to others.

I would hope at the minimum we would all ask ourselves daily why are we here? What am I doing and do I feel I am doing what I am supposed to be doing? I don’t believe we have a pre-destiny, but I do believe we have goals and personal missions to accomplish that go above surviving.  These days by asking these two simple questions everyday, I must admit I am in awe of the world and its events, and I welcome both the joys and tribulations the universe sends my way.  It is after all the cosmic dance that matters.  It is simply being and being in a state of calm and joy in that state of conciousness.  Try it.  You will like it.

Bring Back Old West Justice

Howard Hill in his recent book Invisible Leverage has given us a real simple and clear definition of why Credit Default Swaps (CDS) are so attractive and lucrative. You can find some of the chapters of that book online at Howard’s blog site, http://mindonmoney.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/invisible-leverage/.  “ Most Corporate Credit Default Swap (CDS) contracts only charge 1% to 3% of the face amount of the bond as an annual payment and the capital requirement is only about 5% of the face amount.

If a corporate bond issuer goes into default, the typical decline in value of the bond is around 30%. For a corporate CDS investor, that’s a 600% return on the 5% capital deposited to enter into the contract. In the subprime CDS market, a 5% capital bet could return as much as 2000% if the bond represented became worthless. Compare that to short sales, where if a stock goes to zero, the maximum return on capital is 200%.

The CDS market was [and is] a goldmine for betting against companies. Bearish traders who previously had shorted company stocks discovered that the relatively small amount of capital and low payments for CDS brought them much higher returns when they correctly targeted companies that were in trouble. “

What most of us don’t understand is why I call CDS’ weapons of mass destruction.  I think most of us think these were investment plays made by big players who were greedy and they getting what they deserve, which is true for those who were hedging with CDS’.  But what they were betting on is bonds and credit instruments that would become worthless and they acted to insure they did.

What most people don’t understand that those bonds they were taking down were monies invested by school districts, retirement funds of corporations, hospitals, and other institutions that were investing in what they thought were very secure and conservative investment instruments.  At the core of the SEC’s investigation and allegations of the activities at Goldman Sachs was that a hedge fund investor, Paulson, brought a group of worthless paper to Goldman and Goldman then pawned them off to investors without telling them that they were toxic.  Those investors, like hospitals and retirement funds lost their shirts and Paulson banked $1 Billion on the play and Goldman pocketed $15-20 million in fees.

That’s why the trades were in my mind criminal and that’s also, at first, why the regulators looked the other.  First you have to understand that the CDS trades were “over-the-counter” and therefore no public disclosure was required or for that matter no requirement to show those trades on corporate balance sheets as they were not required by regulations.

Secondly, the “Tea Party” gang and a lot of Americans believe that the government should not be bailing these boys out.  On the moral side of the issue I agree, but as Howard so clearly pointed out in his book the size and scope of the impacts left our government and the governments of the EU no choice. Think about this: “Just how large is the CDS business, and why is it so important that the taxpayers should subsidize the largest participant in the business taking over the fifth largest? In the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) June 2007 Triennial Central Bank Survey, it was reported that the CDS business grew to a face amount over $45 trillion, up from an amount so small that it wasn’t even reported three years earlier. This staggering sum was twice as much as the combined value of all stocks on the U.S. exchanges at the time, and nearly three times the size of our national GDP.”

If not rescued by the sovereigns, the impact on the world’s economy would surely have been so great that I don’t think a “recovery” would have been even possible.  However, what is also criminal is these practices now continue unabated and still unregulated.  The very same investment firms are playing the same games.  Goldman Sachs is going to offer up “Fabulous Fab” as a sacrificial lamb and claim that at the top, they had no idea this “rogue” trader was making the moves he was making in the market.  What a crock.  An average great trader wins 55% of the time and loses 45% of the time.  His profit is the difference.  These numbers reflect the really hot traders with exceptional instincts.  Goldman Sachs wins 95% of time!  What?  How? True they have inside info which in itself is illegal and secondly they are making their massive profits and paying obscene bonuses because of what should be criminal activities plain and simple.  We all know what happened to card cheats in the old west.  Well these guys, the Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, and hedge fund gurus of the world are the cheats of Wall Street, not that I am advocating a hanging. However, I am advocating they should make restitution and I am advocating that our government regulators should be given the tools by law to make sure this never happens again. Those tools should include some jail time for the Fabulous Fabs and the Biffs and Buffies of Wall Street, but more importantly their bosses, much more importantly their bosses. You know, if Fabulous Fab gets 5-10, then his boss should get 10-20.  Something like that sounds right, doesn’t it?

Some Very Disturbing and Shameful Math

Lost in the hoopla concerning the financial markets and volcanoes and their economic impacts is a truly sad and disturbing story.  It is a story about heroes and people who have made the most important sacrifices for our freedom.  These are the veterans of the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  Some of those veterans have completed three or four tours of combat.  This is especially true in the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns.  In Vietnam, two tours were the norm and three and four tours were rare exceptions involving people with critically needed skills.  I did two tours in Vietnam, but a third was not allowed.

But the story today is about how these people are being cared for AFTER their service.  The disturbing math is obvious from the following stories that have been posted lately.  I think the most important facts just aren’t adding up.

For example, one story talks about the fact that of 100,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, 31% of them are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorders and a slightly larger number from the residuals of head injuries.  That is about 31,000 veterans.  However the second story is telling a more disturbing story that 22,000 of these soldiers are imprisoned for “personality disorders (PD)” and only released from confinement if they sign a PD discharge which then denies them of care or benefits.  If I do my math right that means 22% of the people who have served often multiple tours and in the illustrated case 12 years of service are imprisoned and subjected to ridicule and psychological abuse until they acquiesce and sign PD discharges.  You be the judge of the facts.

This from the Chicago Tribune:

Corey Gibson’s right leg bounces when he sits. At 29 he sleeps fitfully, with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle mounted above his bed. “That’s my sense of security,” he says. Laurie Emmer, a 47-year-old mother of four, shuns crowds and strangers. She always sits facing the restaurant door when she goes out to eat and, before sitting down, makes sure to identify the quickest route out. And Eric Johnson, 62, who revisits Vietnam nearly every night in his head, escapes the demons who rob him of sleep by patrolling the streets of his South Side neighborhood with his yellow Labrador retriever, Che.

The veterans come from different generations and different wars, yet they share a common and increasingly costly wartime affliction — post-traumatic stress disorder and other forms of psychological damage. Last year, mental illnesses accounted for 35 percent of the $22 billion spent on disability payments to veterans who served in the Vietnam, Persian Gulf and “global war on terror” eras, according to a Tribune analysis.

Compensating veterans with psychological scars has helped fuel a 76 percent surge in service-related disability costs since 2003, the Tribune found, burdening an already overwhelmed system and underscoring the reality that the biggest costs of war are not often immediate or visible. Studies suggest costs will continue to soar. The percentage of military evacuations from Iraq and Afghanistan that were attributed to mental disorders has increased sharply in the last four years, a recent Defense Department study shows. Another survey of about 100,000 Afghanistan and Iraq veterans found that 31 percent had been diagnosed with mental health or psychosocial problems. “When you look at the epidemic of PTSD, you see the future,” said Harvard University‘s Linda Bilmes, co-author of the 2008 book “The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict.”

The Tribune’s analysis of claim records from the Department of Veterans Affairs found that vets’ psychological wounds are by far the most expensive type of disability. Compensating wartime veterans since Vietnam for PTSD and other mental conditions is four to five times costlier than the average for all disability categories, the Tribune found. Victims of PTSD also are more likely to suffer other serious and costly health problems than other disabled veterans. In short, they are sicker.

Gibson, Emmer and Johnson represent veterans at different stages of an evolving psychological struggle.
Johnson is a reminder that psychological damage can consume an adult life — in his case, 40 years. Johnson left South Vietnam in 1970, returning to Chicago after a year of tracking and killing the enemy in the jungle. He says he was ill-prepared for an abrupt transition to civilian life.

“I felt stripped naked without a gun,” said the burly, dreadlocked Johnson, who after his return would wear twin shoulder holsters carrying .45 automatics. When Johnson showered, he always took a gun, sealed in a plastic bag. He slept with a gun under his pillow. His first wife, Cookie, knew not to shake him awake or touch his feet. For years he couldn’t acknowledge he had a problem, but in 1979, Johnson was diagnosed with PTSD.

The VA spent an estimated $5.6 billion last year compensating Vietnam veterans like Johnson for mental disorders, according to the Tribune analysis. That’s $4 of every $10 paid to disabled veterans from that war. Johnson also reflects the reality that compensation payments to Vietnam veterans with psychological damage are, on average, 134 percent higher than payments to other disabled Vietnam vets. Johnson receives compensation for diabetes, high blood pressure, an intestinal disorder and a back injury sustained during a helicopter crash in Vietnam, in addition to PTSD.

PTSD has changed Johnson, a guarded man who is slow to trust strangers and rarely socializes. He ignores holidays and birthdays (including his own) and avoids family functions. The night terrors of Vietnam have receded but not gone away. Johnson still returns to Vietnam nearly every night.  Johnson’s second wife, Erma, has learned to recognize and deal with the enemy he’s chasing in his dreams. “She’ll wake me up and say, ‘Don’t go — I got him,'” he said.  A retired postal worker who worked through his injuries, Johnson said he does not drink or take drugs, beyond pain relievers for his back and legs and medications to treat his diabetes. “Mentally, I’m a survivor,” he said with a smile. “I’m more fortunate than the average veteran because I’ve figured a few things out.”

Gibson is today where Johnson was in 1970. Volatile and solitary, Gibson tallies his losses after his tour of duty in Iraq — his fiancée; three jobs from which he was fired; an active, engaging life that seems forever lost.

Gibson is part of a generation of younger vets whose problems are only starting to emerge. Last year, veterans of the war-on-terror era received $329 million in disability payments related to mental disorders, or 34 percent of the money paid to all disabled vets from the same era.  A paramedic from Terre Haute, Ind., Gibson signed up in 1999 for a five-year stint with the Army’s 555th Forward Surgical Team, whose job was to penetrate deep into the battlefield and provide emergency treatment for wounded soldiers advancing to the front. He entered Iraq in March 2003.

Gibson chooses not to dwell on what happened in Iraq, other than brief mentions of mortar attacks, taking prisoners and being blown from a truck during an attack on the way to Baghdad. When he returned home in 2004, “My fiancée knew right away. ‘You’ve changed, you’re different,’ she kept saying,” he said. There were night terrors and flashbacks. He became hypersensitive to perceived slights. “It doesn’t help that I’m a male nurse,” he said.

Gibson sleeps little and spends a lot of time alone, walking the neighborhood with his dog, Gibby. One night, while his fiancée slept with her head resting on his chest, Gibson had a terrible nightmare and curled his body, putting her in a powerful headlock. She pounded on his chest to wake him up. Soon after, she left him, Gibson said.

He has been diagnosed with PTSD but also complains of other troubles, such as dizziness, a loss of long-term memory and back pain, which he says stems from his being thrown from the truck. After returning in 2004, he often slept less than an hour a night until he bought and mounted the rifle above his bed. “My sleep went from 45 minutes a night to about two hours,” he said. He calls the gun “an extension of my arm.” Gibson, who receives compensation for PTSD, recently filed a claim with the VA for traumatic brain injury. He spends most of his time at home, on his computer or watching videos. The shades are drawn.

Emmer, a retired Army sergeant, is among about a quarter-million women who have served in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the Department of Defense. But the number that speaks to Emmer’s life-changing experiences is $50 million, the amount spent last year by the VA to compensate all female veterans from the war-on-terror era for psychological damage, according to the Tribune’s analysis.

A medic in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, Emmer waited 20 years to get an overseas combat assignment. Within a couple months of arriving in Afghanistan, her career as a skilled medic began to unravel. Emmer reported being raped by a coalition officer in Kandahar Province in spring 2003. In a separate incident, she injured her head falling off a military vehicle.

Today, the combination of PTSD and traumatic brain injury, or TBI, has enveloped Emmer in a light fog marked by physical imbalance, disorientation, anxiety and a round-the-clock headache. As a result of her injuries, Emmer is at a higher risk of stroke and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The ultimate costs of her maladies are unknown.

A pleasant woman with a boyish smile, Emmer appears on her front porch nearly every morning to plant the American flag and reappears to remove it at sundown. There is little physical evidence to suggest she is a severely wounded veteran. But these days, when Emmer leaves the house, she writes down where she is going and why for fear that she’ll forget.

“Unless you lose a limb, I don’t think other injuries resonate with the public,” Emmer said in the living room of her Civil War-era home in rural Sycamore. “Relatives wonder if we’re just making this stuff up, to get free money.” She still longs to jump out of airplanes, which she did about 60 times during her 23-year military career with the 82nd. But that won’t happen. Emmer said she wants to go back to college and get a degree in history, so she can be a substitute teacher. But her doctor has advised against it, saying college might be too stressful. Emmer, who has two children enlisted in the military, is determined to regain much of her old self. She finds support in other veterans “on the roller coaster” who are working toward the same goal. “They want the old normal back,” she said. tmjones@tribune.com

Caring for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses is costing the federal government billions of dollars a year, and will continue to do so for years to come. According to an analysis of Department of Veterans Affairs’ records by the Chicago Tribune, the VA spent $5.6 billion last year to treat mental disabilities. While these costs included treating veterans from previous wars, such as Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, the ballooning expenses have been driven largely by soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

One military survey of about 100,000 veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars showed that 31% had been diagnosed with mental health or psychosocial problems. But the following story casts a very disturbing light on things and how our military is dealing with this overwhelming situation.

By Sherwood Ross – BLN Contributing Writer

An army sergeant who had received 22 honors including a Combat Action Badge prior to being wounded in Iraq by a mortar shell was told he was faking his medical symptoms and subjected to abusive treatment until he agreed to a “personality disorder”(PD) discharge.

After a doctor with the First Cavalry division wrote he was out for “secondary gain,” Chuck Luther was imprisoned in a six- by eight-foot  isolation chamber, ridiculed by the guards, denied regular meals and showers and kept awake by perpetual lights and blasting heavy metal music—abuses similar to the punishments inflicted on terrorist suspects by the CIA.

“They told me I wasn’t a real soldier, that I was a piece of crap. All I wanted was to be treated for my injuries,” 12-year veteran Luther told reporter Joshua Kors of “The Nation” magazine (April 26th). “Now suddenly I’m not a soldier. I’m a prisoner, by my own people. I felt like a caged animal in that room. That’s when I started to lose it.” The article is called “Disposable Soldiers: How the Pentagon is Cheating Wounded Vets.”

Luther had been seven months into his deployment at Camp Taji, 20 miles north of Baghdad, when a mortal shell exploded at the base of his guard tower that knocked him down, slamming his head into the concrete. “I remember laying there in a daze, looking around, trying to figure out where I was at,” he said. Luther suffered permanent hearing loss in his right ear, tinnitus, agonizing headaches behind his right eye, severe nosebleeds, and shoulder pain.

The sergeant took a Chapter 5-13 PD discharge in order to escape his confinement, becoming one of 22,600 soldiers so separated since 2001, a discharge that relieves the Pentagon of the responsibility and cost of long-term care for the wounded. An Army major told Luther to sign the discharge papers or “you’re going to be here a lot longer.” Luther recalled, “They had me broke down. At that point, I just wanted to get home.” Many of the PD discharge recipients are soldiers who have served two and three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, author Kors writes.

Sgt. Angel Sandoval, who served under Luther, said Luther’s insistence on his wearing ceramic plates strapped to his bulletproof vest saved his life and described Luther as “one of the greatest leaders I had.” Yet this is the man the Army imprisoned when he requested medical treatment. “This should have been resolved during the Bush administration. And it should have been stopped now by the Obama administration,” Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, is quoted as saying about PD discharges. “The fact that it hasn’t is a national disgrace.”

Luther’s case is no isolated example, writes Kors, noting that in the past three years “The Nation” has uncovered more than two dozen such cases. “All the soldiers were examined, deemed physically and psychologically fit, then welcomed into the military. All performed honorably before being wounded during service…Yet after seeking treatment for their wounds, each soldier was diagnosed with a pre-existing personality disorder, then discharged and denied benefits,” Kors writes.

This past December, he reports, VA doctors found Luther to be suffering from migraine headaches, vision problems, dizziness, nausea, difficulty hearing, numbness, anxiety and irritability—and diagnosed him with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, declaring the veteran 80 percent disabled. The diagnosis cleared the way for the sergeant to receive disability benefits and lifetime medical care.

With his health improving, Luther has vowed to fight the military on behalf of other soldiers who got a raw deal like himself.  He founded Disposable Warriors, a one-soldier operation near Fort Hood, Texas,  that assists soldiers fighting their discharge and those appealing their disability rating, Kors reports. Luther says the base had 12 suicides last year as of June 2nd but reported only two. Luther is quoted in a November 21, 2009, article on “Truthout” as saying there is only one mental health professional for every 1,263 soldiers “and that is the first failure.”

After opening Disposable Warriors, Luther found a threatening note on his car windshield that read: “Back off or you and your family will pay!!” Whoever wrote that note doesn’t know Chuck Luther very well.

We cannot and must not forget these brave men and women who have sacrificed themselves for us.  I personally did a lot of healing when I saw how much more respect our country and its people showed to the returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.  I remember the yellow ribbons and the bumper stickers.  Somehow these shows of support healed my experiences of returning to SF and getting off the plane to experience people spitting on me.  I was once again proud of being a medic and a soldier and my service.

However, the reality of what is going on now within our military concerning these individuals cannot and should not be tolerated by any of us.  We should all be outraged by these actions.  If you know any of these people or their families, support them.  Get involved.  Write your CONgress members and let them know there should not be a SINGLE soldier confined for PD.  NOT A SINGLE ONE! PD is a medical condition and should be treated as such.  This is a cost management exercise and damn the costs.  If we can spend trillions bailing out fat cat banksters, we can certainly spend billions taking care of those brave individuals who fight for our peace and security.

First Year Anniversary

Just the stats: 95 articles, 570 pages, 142,500 words, 1,200 unique visitors, 50 referrals, 15 featured articles in other sites, and no end to the stories that need to be written.

When I reflect on the year, it is really remarkable to me how this blog has morphed from being an online personal journal to what it is today. First I must thank the universe for providing such a remarkable cast of characters and events to observe and comment on during the year. But more importantly, I have been really humbled by the people who have read the blog and taken the time to make their comments. I honestly did not think anyone would really care what I had to say, let alone encourage an old fool like me to do more!

I have come to realize in concrete terms that we all play an important role in how our future unfolds.  I have also learned that there are those in our world who honestly believe we are, for the most part, their slaves and servants. What we are seeing, I hope, is a great awakening.  The act of throwing off the chains of ignorance and poverty from our backs.  There is still a lot more waking up required and we must get off our lazy butts and begin the process of reclaiming our lives.  However, not with violence, anarchy, or revolution as some who are spewing such vitriol dialogue, but by reclaiming our political processes and taking personal responsibility for everyone in our communities.

I believe we are fast approaching the most trying times in our history.  We have been lied to about the nature of the upcoming events, we have been deceived into believing our governments are “taking care of us” and most importantly we really have no idea who is really running the show.  We must expose these facts, we must question everything we think we know, and we must talk to each other about how WE are going to fix it.

There is no THEY. It is US. I have lived all over the world and in every culture.  Years in Europe, 3 years in Africa, 2 years in China, and nearly five years in the Middle East.  There is one thing I know for sure and that is we all have the same love for our families and the same hopes and dreams for the future of our children.  No exceptions.  This is the keystone that should unite our action. We can no longer afford to allow anyone to do our thinking for us.  I have a profound sense that we all, without exception, know what to do.  Now it is just a matter of believing that our single actions, whatever they may be or how insignificant they may seem to us, must be taken.  Act on what we each know is right to do.

For me, I will keep writing.  Tell me what you want me to write about.  I will do my utmost to research the issues and bring as much of the facts forward as I can for all of us to share.  Thanks to all who read this little blog.  You have been an inspiration beyond words.