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Archive for March, 2014

American Flags Raise Awareness of Veteran Suicides

Monday, March 31st, 2014

A very interesting article by Jada Smith from the NY Times highlights the work being done by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America as they try and raise awareness of issues regarding Veteran Suicides. They recently lined nearly 2,000 American Flags on the National Mall to raise awareness of their cause. The 2,000 flag represented the amount of Veteran Suicides thus far in 2014 alone (approximately 22 per day).
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#HonorOurSoldiers
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VeteranSuicidesUSFlags

Using Flags to Focus on Veteran Suicides
From NY Times:
WASHINGTON — Volunteers in dark green hooded sweatshirts spread out across the National Mall on Thursday, planting 1,892 small American flags in the grass between the Washington Monument and the Capitol. Each flag represented a veteran who had committed suicide since Jan. 1, a figure that amounts to 22 deaths each day.

Civilians stood among the waving flags in solidarity with veterans like Michael Blazer, a former sergeant in the Army who had a friend commit suicide when he got back from Afghanistan.

“He shot himself in the same room as me and a friend of mine,” Mr. Blazer said. “I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD because of that, so a lot of these issues are what I’ve personally been dealing with. But above and beyond, I’m out here in memory of him.”

The event was part of an awareness campaign mounted by members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group focused on issues affecting the nation’s newest veterans. They are in Washington this week as part of their leadership development program, Storm the Hill, and to support the introduction of legislation aimed at preventing suicides and providing more mental health resources for service members home from combat.

Event organizers said that the issues were a top priority for veterans and their families, and that they wanted to make them a priority for Congress, too.

Senator John Walsh, Democrat of Montana and the first Iraq war veteran to serve in the Senate, introduced the Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans Act on Thursday. For Mr. Walsh, the issue is personal: A sergeant who served under him when he commanded an infantry battalion in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 committed suicide after returning home.

“We’ve waited too long to take on this action,” he said. Then, mentioning the 22 veterans who take their lives every day, he added, “That’s an epidemic that we cannot allow to continue.”

When service members leave the military, they can get five years of no-questions-asked care from Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and facilities. One of the bill’s main goals is to extend that window to 15 years.

“For instance, in Vietnam, a lot of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder didn’t show up anywhere until between seven and 12 years later,” said Kate O’Gorman, the political director at the veterans’ advocacy group. “We really want to make sure that care is available when someone is ready to seek it.”

The bill also calls for the military to set up a review process for troops who are discharged for behavior that could have been caused by mental health issues. Measures to help the Veterans Affairs agency recruit more psychiatrists are also included.

“It establishes student loan repayment for psychiatrists,” Ms. O’Gorman said. “When the private sector and even the Department of Defense are able to offer good student loan repayment programs and the V.A. is not, that can make it difficult for them to recruit.”

The striking display of red, white and blue caught the eye of almost everyone leaving a Metro station on the Mall on Thursday. One man wearing a hat with “Vietnam Veteran” stitched on the front took pictures. Others stopped to ask what was going on.

Roger Engetschwiler and his daughter, Katja, were visiting from Switzerland. They were headed to the Holocaust Memorial Museum and then the Lincoln Memorial when they paused to find out about the flags.

“We knew the subject when they told us that there’s a lot of suicide going on with veterans,” he said. “But I didn’t know the numbers were that high. That’s really scary.”

Half-Staff New Hampshire Flags – Honoring Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

American Flags and New Hampshire Flags to fly at half-staff Thursday, March 27th in honor of Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy. Lieutenant Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy were both members of the Boston Fire Department who lost their lives in the line of duty while battling a blaze on March 26th.
#FlagsHalf-Staff
#AmericanFlags
#NewHampshireFlags

Half-Staff Massachusetts Flags – Honoring Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

American Flags and Massachusetts Flags to fly at half-staff Thursday, March 27th in honor of Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy. Lieutenant Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy were both members of the Boston Fire Department who lost their lives in the line of duty while battling a blaze on March 26th.
#FlagsHalf-Staff
#AmericanFlags
#MassachusettsFlags

UPDATE: This half-staff order has been extended through Thursday, April 3rd.

Half-Staff Arizona Flags – Honoring Thomas Quesnel

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

American Flags and Arizona Flags to fly at half-staff Thursday, March 27th in the State of Arizona in honor of Thomas Quesnel. Quesnel was an arson investigator with the Tucson Fire Department who served faithfully for 25 years. Mr. Quesnel also served four years with the US Coast Guard.
#FlagsHalf-Staff
#AmericanFlags
#ArizonaFlags

Half-Staff Pennsylvania Flags – Honoring Edwin Lance Wentzel

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Pennsylvania Flags to fly at half-staff Wednesday, March 26th through Thursday, March 27th at the Capitol Complex and throughout Westmoreland County in honor of Edwin Lance Wentzel. Mr. Wentzel served with the Youngwood Volunteer Fire Department for 35 years and was killed while on duty and searching for a missing woman when he was struck by a train.
#FlagsHalf-Staff
#PennsylvaniaFlags

Half-Staff Illinois Flags – Honoring David Harris

Monday, March 24th, 2014

American Flags and Illinois Flags to fly at half-staff Monday, March 24th in Illinois in honor of Officer David Harris. Officer Harris was a 10 year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. He was off-duty and on his way home when he was hit by an automobile that was fleeing from police.
#FlagsHalf-Staff
#AmericanFlags
#IllinoisFlags

David Harris

Half-Staff Illinois Flags – Honoring Reid Nannen

Monday, March 24th, 2014

American Flags and Illinois Flags to fly at half-staff Monday, March 24th in Illinois in honor of USMC Major Reid Nannen. Major Nannen died when the F/A-18C Hornet he was flying crashed during a training exercise. He was serving at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center in Fallon, NV as a TopGun student.

His awards and decorations include the NATO Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, National Defense Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Commendation Medal and Air Medal.

#FlagsHalf-Staff
#AmericanFlags
#IllinoisFlags
Reid Nannen

Half-Staff Arkansas Flags – Honoring Pete Richardson

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Arkansas Flags to fly at half-staff Saturday, March 22nd in honor of Lafayette County Chief Deputy Allen Ray “Pete” Richardson. Richardson died as a result of an auto accident that occurred in the line of duty. He was a Veteran of the US Air Force and also the county’s criminal investigator.
#FlagsHalf-Staff
#ArkansasFlags

Pete Richardson

Half-Staff Arizona Flags – Honoring Bobby Mollere

Friday, March 21st, 2014

American Flags and Arizona Flags to fly at half-staff Saturday, March 22nd in honor of Bobby Mollere. Mollere was a Lieutenant with the Hellsgate Fire Department who died from cardiac problems that occurred when performing his Wildland Pack Test.
#FlagsHalf-Staff
#AmericanFlags
#ArizonaFlags

Half-Staff Illinois Flags – Honoring Jim Morrissy

Friday, March 21st, 2014

American Flags and Illinois Flags to fly at half-staff Friday, March 21st through Sunday, March 22nd in the State of Illinois in honor of Jim Morrissy. Morrissy was an officer with the Oak Forest Police Department. He was killed in an auto accident this week while in route to a call.
#FlagsHalf-Staff
#AmericanFlags
#IllinoisFlags
Jim Morrissy