BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
"IT IS NOT JUDGE WOPNER!" YELLED AN INCREASINGLY AGITATED RAHM EMANUEL THIS MORNING AT CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O.
"WELL IS IT JUDGE JUDY?" ASKED BARRY.
THE CONFUSION STEMMED FROM THE NEWS THAT BARRY'S BEEN INVITED TO DO COURT TV -- SPECIFICALLY, HIS OLD ROLL DOG ROD BLAGOJEVICH WANTS HIM "TO TESTIFY FOR THE DEFENSE."
RAHM ATTEMPTED TO TALK BARRY OUT OF IT BUT BARRY WASN'T HAVING IT.
"I CAN SHOW UP IN A BIG HAT WITH A VEIL AND PEEL BACK THE VEIL AND HAVE ON THESE HUGE SUN GLASSES, LIKE JOAN COLLINS WHEN SHE FIRST CAME ON DYNASTY!"
"THIS IS NOT A TV SHOW!" SNAPPED RAHM.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Now we're going to do what we should have done in yesterday's snapshot (but no room), drop back to Tuesday to note an evening hearing of the Military Personnel Subcommittee (of the US House Armed Services Committee) which addressed PTSD and TBI. Chair Susan Davis explained at the top of the hearing that some members of the military were being separated from the military (discharged) due to behavious related to PTSD or TBI and and, noting US House Rep Walter Jones' work on this issue, she declared, "I agree with the gentleman that it is unacceptable that the military departments were separating service members because of misconduct that was caused by a PTSD or TBI injury that occured during his or her combat tour. Now that we know so much more about the extent of those injuries in the force, we owe every returning service member the assurance that we will not punish them for an injury that resulted from combat service. The unfortunate truth is that we have very likely already separated a number of service members where the commanders did not consider that the member was experiencing the consequences of PTSD or TBI." Appearing before the Subcommittee were Dr. Charles Rice of the Defense Dept and Bill Carr also of DoD. We'll excerpt the following exchanges.
Chair Susan Davis: We're going to want to talk about the needs, the capacity of the health community within the services and the general population as well and being able to meet these requirements as well as having the numbers, really, to review a number of these cases. But I wanted to focus initially on the commanders in the field. And talk about how we're educating them and the role that they're actually playing in trying to assess the severity or the possibility that someone could be suffering with PTSD or TBI. One of the things we know is how difficult it is to diagnose and certainly in a subjective fashion to be able to get that information and yet the commander plays a pretty significant role. What are we doing and what's the status of that? How do you think we are doing in trying to move that area forward?
Bill Carr: The first is for the commanders to say "We use the term PTSD. What does it mean? How do you spot it, what does it mean in concrete terms?" If you can express it in a way that they comprehend than the likelihood of their uniting that circumstance with medical help is that much greater. The Army, the Marine Corps have active programs and training where they instruct the field in the terms. For example, up PTSD --
Chair Susan Davis: Excuse me, could you pull your mike just a little bit closer.
Bill Carr: I'm sorry. For example, with PTSD, my point before this was that commanders have guides that allow them to take a situation that presents and make some more informed and rational judgment as to whether or not the symptoms they're seeing represent PTSD and, for example, some of the instruction presents to them that if-if the person reports a disturbing memories and disturbing dreams reliving so forth, those are things we would all say, "Yes, I recognize that now as PTSD." But unless we actively say it to the chain of command, then they'll hear it and they won't understand the emotional significance of what they've just heard. So the education programs of the Army and Marine Coprs in making sure commanders know that --
Chair Susan Davis: Could you just be more specific in helping us understand? I think in the testimony there was some notion of how much time is spent but what does that look like in terms of that training?
Bill Carr: It would take the form of about one hour training. And I'm going to have to -- I'm sorry -- I will have to confer back to you -- exactly how it would play out at a unit at, let's say, Fort Bragg, what specifically did they experience? And I would be glad to provide that back. There are a number of resources on the web that are available to those who go look for them and they're easily found but I think the question from the Chair is "What do we present so that it's deliberately placed before the chain of command?" So that these terms that I've described. And I'm sorry I can't provide that now but I'll come back to it.
Chair Susan Davis: Dr. Rice? Did you want --
Dr. Charles Rice: Uh. Yes, ma'am. Madame Chair, I think it's important to emphasize that the emphasis on this comes from the very top. General [Peter] Chiarelli, the Vice Chief of Staff os the US Army, General [James] Amos, the Assisting Commandant of the Marine Corps have talked about this over and over with their commanders. [Clears throat.] Excuse me. Once a month, for example, General Chiarelli has a conference with all of his commanders where a suicide has occured and the general officer at that particular post or station is there to report on what were the specific cirucmstances that led up to the suicide. Obviously, we don't want to be tumbling to this problem after a suicide has been completed. But I think it does bring to bear the fact that the emphasis from the Vice Chief and from the Assisting Commandant is continuous. It's important. They are very emphatic about making sure that it gets desseminated won the chain of command. I think the other -- in addition to the point that Mr. Carr made -- the other place that it's real important is the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer level because those are the people who are really in day to day contact with the troops and education in this area has been encorporated into sergeants' major course, for example. All of the Senior NCO leaders are taught about how to recognize various aspects. The details -- contents of those courses is something that, like Mr. Carr, I woud have to get back to you.
Chair Susan Davis: Okay, thank you very much. Because I think we all know how long it takes the medical professionals to be able to describe and understand and I think there's a great deal for our commanders to be doing and certainly the officers and it's difficult to even find some of the time for that. But I think that while we had a great deal of emphasis early in the last few years and we've had to focus a great deal on suicides in the unit, I think we want to be sure that we're spending enough time doing that because, in many ways, they really are the critical actor, I think, in this.
Dr. Charles Rice: Yes, ma'am, I think that's exactly right. I think that the most important thing that the commander, the Senior NCO does is to convey to a member of his unit: It's okay to go ask for help. It takes a strong person to do that.
Chair Susan Davis: Thank you. Mr. Wilson?
Ranking Member Joe Wilson: Thank you again, for both of you being here. And Mr. Carr how has DoD reached out to former military members who are administratively discharged, separated to inform them of the opportunity to request a review of their separation through the discharge review board? To date, how many members have requested such a review?
Bill Carr: The outreach was through media -- principally to ensure that it reached cities and towns -- and, uh, to date, the number's relatively low 129 Army have applied for -- to the Discharge Review Board.
Ranking Member Joe Wilson: And --
Bill Carr: So it was a media effort.
Ranking Member Joe Wilson: A media effort. And also, I'm sure if a person is discharged, you'll send periodic -- I've seen them -- periodic newsletters to the discharged personnel and it would have been in that publication too, wouldn't it?
Bill Carr: I'm almost sure it was in those -- it was in those publications as well.
Ranking Member Joe Wilson: And inadvertently, one of my sons [Alan] -- who served a year in Iraq -- I kept, kept getting his mail and it was really very enlightening and very encouraging to me, how helpful the information that was provided and, of course, I would get it to him right away.
Bill Carr: Yes, sir.
Ranking Member Joe Wilson: And then they've got him at a correct address.
Bill Carr: Yes, sir.
Ranking Member Joe Wilson: What is your plan for providing additional mental health assets required for the pre-separation exams and the discharge review boards? How many additional personnel do you anticipate needing? Additionally, I'm very grateful, I work with a volunteer organization called Hidden Wounds of Columbia, South Carolina which is serving as a back up for discharged personnel, they are actively promoting mental health assistance. And so it's DoD, VA and then volunteer organizations. But how many more personnel do we need?
Bill Carr: For the discharge review board function, as long as the criteria are kept broad for example, we don't stipulate a grade on whether they're active or reserve and are not overly restricted in the academic disciplines, my understanding is that the manning requirements will be met for the DRBs, that that wouldn't impose any constraint on the flow of applications.
Ranking Member Joe Wilson: And it's encouraging for me, I went to a pancake breakfast to raise money for Hidden Wounds and the VA had a table set up there with personnel from the VA hospital and it was a -- I could see that it was a really positive interaction between the volunteer organizations and DoD personnel and VA personnel.
US House Rep Dave Loebsack noted that he shared Wilson's concern that members of the Reserves and their families -- "especially those living in rural areas" -- and he wanted to know about the Tele-health program, how service members were made aware of it and how those whom the Tele-health determined needed face-to-face treatment were getting it?
Dr. Rice stated that the Tele-health was created with rural members in mind. The media was used to get the word out. Self-referral is available if someone requires more than is available through Tele-health or the website. But how clear is that to someone? Probably not that clear. This was a weak section and the answers weren't impressive nor were they reassuring. Loebsack stated (warned?) he would be staying on this issue and thinks it will be "a huge issue" especially for the National Guard in Iowa. He wanted to know about Guard members diagnosed with PTSD after separation? Dr. Rice stated they would be referred to VA. Carr stated that, if it were him, for the Reserve, that "I'm probably going to proceed with my physician on my own medical program". Or, they could go onto the VA and Carr trusted (so very trusting or so cleverly spinning?) that he would trust that the VA would "in short order . . . administratively determine it to be a consequence of combat" -- apparently Carr has paid little attention to either the news or the subcommittee hearings of the House Veterans Committee that US House Rep John Hall has chaired?
Related, we'll note this from Sherwood Ross' "PENTAGON CONTINUES TO USE 'PERSONALITY DISORDER' DISCHARGES TO CHEAT VETERANS OUT OF BENEFITS" (Veterans Today):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.
Yesterday's snapshot addressed the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, Wally covered it in "Scott Brown," Ava in "Burris asks, Wilson sometimes answers" and Kat in "Marco Reininger testifes to Congress."
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