Veterans GOODNEWS for Dec. 4

Veterans GOODNEWS for Dec. 4

Good news for veteransA pill for Gulf War Syndrome? (San Diego Union-Tribune)
More than 20 years after Operation Desert Storm, at least 175,000 U.S. military veterans claim a broad range of mysterious symptoms known as Gulf War Syndrome. Doctors have voiced skepticism about their complaints, which include fatigue, digestive distress and recall problems. Sure, some physicians say, a lot of civilians have those health challenges, too — especially as they age. But a UC San Diego physician has long taken a different view, and now her research is focusing on a possible treatment in the form of a simple, over-the-counter supplement. Dr. Beatrice Golomb, a professor and researcher with the university’s medical school, recently published a study that showed some success against the syndrome with a high-quality brand of coenzyme Q10. “It’s not a cure,” said Golomb, who became interested in Gulf War Syndrome during the late 1990s while working as a scholar at RAND Corp. “But by boosting cell energy and antioxidation, it does mitigate symptoms.”

World War II women veterans few, but not forgotten (Bellevue Leader)
Among the 120 veterans living at the Eastern Nebraska Veterans’ Home are eight women, four of whom served during World War II, and two of whom remain lucid enough to talk about it. Jean Staats, who is approaching her 90th birthday, and Mary Martin, 94, both reside at the home on Capehart Road, and both agreed to be interviewed on the eve of the 73rd anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Both women grew up in New York – Martin in Brooklyn and Staats on Long Island. Today they praise the life they live at the veterans’ home, with its ready care and numerous activities. But they have not entirely forgotten the way things used to be, when Washington, D.C., was a hive of wartime camaraderie, and battlefields and hospitals in Europe and Japan accepted a constant flow of injured soldiers. Martin was a nurse before U.S. involvement in World War II began, and she transitioned seamlessly into wartime medicine in the Army. Staats, younger by some five years, was too young to join the war effort until early 1945 when her parents finally relented and signed the papers that would allow her to join a Navy command in the nation’s capital as a receptionist. The parental permission, Staats recalled, was granted after she spent two days crying in her room demanding to be let in on the action.

Veterans begin restoring fighter bomber saved from scrapyard (WNOE-New Orleans)
Fighter planes often see the worst in wartime, and when they’re grounded for good, it’s typically because they’re in poor condition. After spending time in Vietnam and on countless aircraft carriers, one Vietnam-era fighter plane now sits in it’s final resting place. That’s the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum in Monroe, La. Jerry Smith served in the Air Force, and has been put in charge of restoring the plane you see here to the plane they saw in combat. “It takes a lot of equipment and manpower and sacrifice to protect it. That’s our mission here,” Smith said. The Corsair-2 fighter bomber was frequently used in World War II and Vietnam. “[It was a] very, very lethal weapon, and it had two cannons on it. If somebody got after it, the plane could defend itself. It could also carry air-to-air missiles, and actually carry a type of nuclear weapon. It was a very utility aircraft and that’s why we want to have it here,” Smith said.

Pearl Harbor veterans gather for meeting of USS Arizona survivors (The Guardian)
Four of the remaining nine USS Arizona survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack are vowing this year’s anniversary won’t be their last reunion. The men in their 90s gathered for a news conference on Tuesday in a building overlooking the memorial that sits on top of the Arizona, a battleship that sank in the 7 December 1941 attack. Even though it’s the last official survivor gathering of the USS Arizona Reunion Association, the men said they still plan to get together, even if not in Hawaii. “I don’t think this is going to be our last. … We’ve still got time to go,” said Louis Conter, 93, of Grass Valley, California. “We’ll be back out here no matter whether the rest of the crowd can make it or not.” Donald Stratton, 92, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was one of the few survivors of a gun director in the forward part of the ship. More than 65% of his body was burned. Stratton was hospitalized for more than year and then was medically discharged from the navy. He then re-enlisted a year later. “The good Lord saved just a few of us,” he said.

HOOAH gives camaraderie back to the vets (Associated Press)
William White loaded an arrow into his gas-powered crossbow, took aim and pressed the trigger. The deer fell. It was White’s first in three years of coming up empty. Never mind that White is missing an arm and a leg. The U.S. Marine sergeant, a veteran of Beirut, Bosnia and Somalia, thanked a small band of soldiers and civilian volunteers who restored him to wholeness, if only for a day. “It’s always good to find a friend when you need one,” said White, of Wood Dale, as he recognized the HOOAH Deer Hunt for Heroes program. HOOAH is a local offshoot of the U.S. Army’s “Healing Outside Of A Hospital” program. Four Army specialists spent last week working with local founder Tom Huffington of McLean to set up a week of hunting for eight injured warriors at Funks Grove, Ill. “We work with the Army to screen candidates for the program so that we can do the most good,” Huffington said. Physical and psychological assessments, as well as material accommodations for what each candidate needs to succeed, are all factors that contribute to their inclusion, he said. Each wounded soldier is assigned a mentor and support staff to guide him on the hunting expedition.

WWI hero Henry Johnson on verge of Medal of Honor (Albany Times-Union)
After a nearly century-long delay caused by racial discrimination and political wrangling, Army Sgt. Henry Johnson, an African-American World War I hero from Albany, is about to receive the Medal of Honor for his battlefield bravery. The breakthrough came on Wednesday, when U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said that the provision clearing the way for Johnson’s medal was included in the new national defense bill. A turning point in the campaign was the discovery by a Schumer staffer in 2011 of a May 20, 1918, memo from Gen. John J. Pershing, commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. Pershing described battlefield reports of Johnson’s heroism and documented his “notable instance of bravery and devotion.” Johnson fought under French command because the U.S. Army was racially segregated at the time and blacks were relegated primarily to manual labor.

Senate OKs bill to rename VA hospital for honored soldier (Philadelphia Inquirer)
The Senate approved a measure Wednesday that would rename Philadelphia’s Veterans Affairs hospital after the city’s only Vietnam War-era Medal of Honor winner. The bill, introduced by Sens. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) and Robert P. Casey Jr. (D., Pa.), would rename the VA Medical Center on Woodland Avenue for Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz. It passed the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in July. “It is great news that the Senate agrees with me that Cpl. Crescenz should be remembered in this way,” Toomey said Wednesday night. “I realize this is a small gesture on our part, given the nature of his great actions. We do this with profound respect and deepest gratitude for his sacrifice.” Crescenz, 19, was killed while single-handedly taking out enemy machine-gun bunkers on Nov. 20, 1968, in South Vietnam. A Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Northeast Philadelphia was renamed for him last month.
Phoenix VA whistleblower gets national award (Arizona Republic)
Dr. Katherine Mitchell, who helped expose mismanagement and patient-safety issues in the Phoenix VA hospital, was honored this morning by the Department of Veterans Affairs with the agency’s Public Servant of the Year award. Mitchell filed complaints with Congress and the VA Office of Inspector General before turning to The Arizona Republic in an effort to combat understaffing, inadequate training and whistle-blower retaliation. She was one of three physicians singled out for honors by the VA Office of Special Counsel, which is responsible for whistle-blower protection in the department. The others were Dr. Phyllis Hollenbeck, who blew the whistle on understaffing at the VA medical center in Jackson, Miss.; and Dr. Charles Sherwood, who spotlighted problems in the Jackson VA’s radiology department. In written remarks, Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said the three physicians “turned the public spotlight on serious threats to patient health and safety. … Because of their efforts, veterans are now far more likely to receive the treatment they deserve.”

Joining Forces yields 65,000 military spouse hires since 2011 (DoD News)
The second lady of the United States made a surprise appearance at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial today to honor the Military Spouse Employment Partnership’s expansion and commend companies who have hired more than 65,000 military spouses since Joining Forces launched in 2011. Brainchild of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, Joining Forces links employment, educational and wellness resources to military families. “When we launched MSEP, we were excited to have 50 businesses involved [and] today … over 260 businesses have entered the partnership, so that’s nearly five times the number of when we started,” Biden said at today’s event. “These partnerships represent every employment sector and are offering jobs at every level within their organizations.” The second lady recognized the Class of 2014 signatory partners as well as the 266 enduring corporate partners and other organizations that have been instrumental in posting some 1.8 million jobs on the MSEP career portal.