News You Can Use: Jan. 18, 2005

   January 18, 2005, Volume
3, Issue 3

Index of Articles

Note: Topics below are now bookmarked!
Click on the underlined topic below to link to the pages on that topic.



CST Support

Program Permits Army
Retirees To Re-Enter Active Duty

Hub Ready For
Terror Drill; Fake `Hijacking’ Will Put City To Test


Utah Army National Guard Arrives In Nicaragua To Help Build Schools

Guardsmen Help With Tsunami Relief


R.I. Lawmaker
Wants Life Insurance Benefits For National Guard Members

Life Insurance For
National Guard Bill

Hatch Vows
Increase For Deceased Vets’ Families ; Iraq Deaths: He Wants Compensation In
Line With The Payments After 9-11


Iraq War Vets
Fight An Enemy At Home – Experts say up to 30% May Need Psychiatric Care


Guard General Says Steps Now Will Prevent Future Crisis



National Guard Family
Program Online Communities for families and youth:



TRICARE website for information on health



Civilian Employment Information (CEI) Program Registration for
Army and Air National Guard, Air Force, and Coast Guard Reserve (Note to those viewing this page in
Word or PDF format:
You may have to copy this address and
paste it into your browser’s address window.)



Cumulative roster of all
National Guard and Reserve who are currently on active duty



Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC)
contains links and information about schooling, distance education,
scholarships, and organizations devoted to the military family is a
website that helps military children with transition and deployment
issues.  It has some great features
for kids, parents, special needs families, school educators, and more—even
safe chat rooms for kids.



Disabled Soldiers Initiative (DS3)

This website provides information on the new DS3
program.  Through DS3, the Army
provides its most severely disabled Soldiers and their families with a system
of advocacy and follow-up.



Have an article,
announcement, or website that you’d like to share with the National Guard
Family Program Community?  Send your
suggestions in an e-mail to
[email protected].




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CST Support





12 JAN 05

Master Sgt. Bob Haskell, (703) 607-2647, Cell (202) 438-4115


By Master
Sgt. Bob Haskell

Guard Bureau

Va. – “The 43rd CST from the SCNG has been placed on ‘stand-by’ for possible
support to this incident.”

That is a
mouthful of a statement that was included in all of the executive summaries
that National Guard officials
prepared in the aftermath of a tragic train wreck that rocked the western
South Carolina community of Graniteville, near Augusta, Ga., early on the
morning of Jan. 6.

It speaks
volumes about how the Guard’s CSTs, civil support teams, are considered a
ready and reliable asset for homeland emergencies – and for homeland

For the
record, the South Carolina National Guard’s 43rd Civil Support Team was not
called out to help civil authorities deal with the wreck that occurred at
2:40 that Thursday morning.

It resulted
in nine deaths, all apparently from chlorine gas that leaked from a ruptured
tank car, after a 42-car freight train struck another train that was parked
at a crossing beside a plant where workers were making denim and other
fabrics, according to press reports. More than 250 people were sickened from
the toxic vapors. It was described as one of this country’s deadliest
chemical spills in years.

“Our civil
support team did not respond,” said Lt. Col. Pete Brooks, spokesman for the
South Carolina Guard. “The team’s members were told to stay in range, to stay
close to their cell phones and pagers.

Still, Guard
officials considered it significant that the civil support team was
considered as a possible source for support. That, officials maintained,
further validates the teams and the fact that Congress has made it possible
for every state and territory to have at least one.                                                      

Each civil
support team has 22 members of the Army and Air National Guard who are trained
and equipped to respond to weapons of mass destruction, to rapidly deploy and
test a disaster site for deadly chemical, biological, radiological or
explosive agents that could be harmful to other emergency responders.

They assist
responders by “determining the nature of an attack, provide medical and
technical advice, and pave the way for identification and arrival of
follow-on state and federal response assets,” the Department of Defense has

Eleven new
teams have been funded in the Defense Appropriations Act for this fiscal
year. That will bring the total number to 55 when the new teams are fielded
and certified.

The new
teams will be located in the District of Columbia, Delaware, Guam, Montana,
New Hampshire, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, the U.S. Virgin
Islands, Vermont and Wyoming, Defense officials have recently told Congress.          

authorized the first 10 teams in 1999. There are now 32 teams throughout the
country with 12 more working toward certification. The 11 new teams will
blanket the country with National Guard troops primed to respond to a
domestic crisis more deadly than the train wreck that occurred in
Graniteville, S.C., early on Jan. 6.



Program Permits Army Retirees To Re-Enter Active Duty

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 USA Today

January 13, 2005

By Gregg Zoroya, USA Today

stretched thin by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, is dipping into one
of its last resources for wartime duty: retirees on a military pension.

The Army is expanding a
little-known program to bring back retired officers and enlisted soldiers who
expressed a willingness to join again, particularly after the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks.

At least 320 retirees
signed up last year under this program. Probably more than 500 will go back
on active duty this year, says Lt. Col. Karla Brischke, a personnel manager.
They range in age from mid-40s to late 60s and possibly older, and each has
at least 20 years of military service.

“It doesn’t mean that
we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel,” says Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty, a
spokesman for the Army personnel department. “It means that we’re doing a
prudent thing with American resources.”

After 9/11, about 15,000
retired soldiers contacted the Army to offer their services. From that group,
the Army last year assembled a list of 4,500 who completed the application

In a separate program,
Hilferty says, the Army compiled a list of 3,000 retired soldiers and began
asking whether they would volunteer to be recruiters or civil affairs
officers. The Army has found 616 retirees willing to fill 442 jobs as civil
affairs officers in and around Iraq. They would help rebuild schools,
hospitals and roads. At least 10 agreed to rejoin as recruiters.

The Marines have a
similar program and have rehired 66, 1st Lt. Darlan Harris says.

Activating retired
soldiers is the latest step by the Army to bolster troop levels. Other
efforts include extending overseas tours from 12 to 15 months, tripling
bonuses for new enlistees and National
members who re-enlist, and mobilizing about 4,000 soldiers from the
Individual Ready Reserve. The IRR is an infrequently used pool of former
troops who still have contractual obligations to the military.

“I’m no spring chicken,”
says James Barren, 54, of Detroit, who is rejoining the Army to train Iraqi
police. “I think training is something that I can have some impact on. If I
can do something to save one person’s life, that’s my motivation.”


The Army told the
retired Detroit policeman last month that his skills are valuable now in
Iraq. “If they have that much confidence in me, I thought I would give it a
shot,” Barren says. He could be in Iraq as early as February.

“I think it’s just
another signal that the Army is stretched very, very thin, if not
overextended,” says Bob Scales, a retired Army major general and former
commandant of the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. “It’s amazing how
creative everybody has been lately in trying to sort of patch this Army of
ours together.”

The 4,500 retirees fall
into three categories. The most valuable to the Army are 1,000 healthy
retirees who have been out of service less than five years. A second group of
2,000 are in good health, out of the military no more than 10 years and 60 or
younger. The third category of 1,500 retirees are older than 60 or have

Retired soldiers who
rejoin would serve up to a year, although they could agree to more or
volunteer for another assignment.

“Here I am, in the
golden years of my life at 70, still hoping that I can help somehow,” says
Gerald Garcia of Spokane, Wash., a retired chief warrant officer in the National Guard. “I want to be part of
it, before it’s too late for me.”

Garcia — 5-foot-10 and
155 pounds, about the same as when he was a soldier — volunteered last year
and is on the Army’s list but hasn’t been called up. “I still do my 25
push-ups every night. I do a lot of walking and get a lot of exercise,” he
says. “Hopefully, I can get involved.”



Hub Ready For Terror Drill; Fake `Hijacking’ Will
Put City To Test

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The Boston

15, 2005

 By Dave Wedge

Some time in
the next six months, an international flight will be “hijacked’ ‘ and forced
to land in Boston by National Guard
fighter jets, touching off one of the largest public safety scares in Hub

But none of
it will be real.

“It is one
of the most – if not THEmost – complex exercises ever attempted,’ ‘ Carlo
Boccia, director of Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Homeland Security office, said.

And one of
the most expensive. The cost of the terrorism drill: $700,000 in public funds
shared by the city and Massport.

comprehensive exercise, dubbed Operation Atlas, will involve 50 local, state,
federal and private agencies but is expanding and may include officials from
Chicago and San Francisco, foreign countries and international authorities.

The plan is
a work in progress but will involve the staged hijacking of a plane flying to
several United States cities from Europe. Passengers and crew will be role
players knowingly involved in the drill.

The plane’s
forced landing and the practice emergency response will have no effect on
daily traffic at Logan International Airport, Boccia said.

The goal of
the anti-terrorism drill is to test emergency preparedness as well as the
efficiency of information sharing and interdepartmental communications. Even
the media will be part of the drill with “reporters” being brought into the
fold to test the release of public information during a real attack.

exercises are very important,” said David Hagy, director of local
coordination for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “(By being
prepared) you save more lives, you save more property and you recover

The drill,
which is one of a series of planned Hub anti-terror exercises, was conceived
by the city and Massport.

Similar drills that were smaller in
scope were done in preparation for the Democratic National Convention,
including one that involved a simulated attack on the MBTA. Officials said
the new exercises were not hatched based on any known threats.




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Utah Army National Guard Arrives In Nicaragua To
Help Build Schools


Associated Pres

13 January 2005

Soldiers from the Utah Army National
are in Nicaragua as part of a humanitarian aid program.

The assignment is part
of the New Horizons 2005 program, a cooperative effort between the United
States, Nicaragua and five other countries to provide humanitarian

The soldiers will
oversee the construction of four schools and two clinics in the western part
of the country. They also will operate three temporary medical clinics.

The group will
distribute medical and school supplies along with about 10,000 Spanish
language books that have been donated by individuals, groups and schools in


The Utah soldiers are
expected to run the mission through its completion in May. National Guard Reservists from other
states will also rotate through the country to help with the projects as part
of their annual two week training.

The New Horizons program
began in the mid-1980s as a way to combining U.S. military training and
humanitarian assistance.


Guardsmen Help With Tsunami Relief

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 FDCH Federal
Department and Agency Documents


January 11, 2005

1/11/2005 – ARLINGTON,
Va. (AFPN) — Alaska and Hawaii, the two closest states, are supporting
American relief efforts by sending Air National
smen and resources to the region devastated by the Dec. 26
earthquake and tsunamis, Guard spokesmen said.

Guardsmen are supporting
the unprecedented relief effort for Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and the nine
other countries around the Indian Ocean that were hit by one of the most
terrible natural disasters in recorded history, officials said.

 The death toll
surpassed 150,000 two weeks after the event. Countless more people were still
unaccounted for, homeless and subject to the life- threatening effects of
disease and lack of food and water, officials said.

 The guardsmen are
undertaking this mission at the same time that many others are heavily
engaged in the war against terrorism at home and abroad, said Maj. Mike
Haller, spokesman for the Alaska National

 About 150 Alaska
Air Guardsmen were involved or prepared to take part in the tsunami relief
efforts, Major Haller said.

 Brig. Gen. James
Robinson, the Alaska Air Guard’s chief of staff, has been assigned as second
in command for the joint U.S. military assistance group for Thailand. He is
responsible for the daily activities of the joint relief effort, Major Haller

 Three C-130
Hercules from the 144th Airlift Squadron at Kulis Air National Guard Base, Alaska, are on duty in Japan, assigned to
support airlift operations for the recovery. About 25 guardsmen are involved
in that mission.

 About 120
guardsmen from the 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons at Kulis are
standing by to take two HC-130 rescue tankers and three HH-60G Pave Hawk
helicopters to the afflicted region if they are needed.

 Meanwhile, Maj.
Russell Wilmot III, an Alaska Air Guard intelligence officer, has served in
the hard-hit Thailand resort town of Phuket with six people from the
Anchorage Fire Department.

 Major Wilmot is
familiar with Thai military forces and speaks the country’s language so he
could offer the firefighters the necessary coordination to ensure their
skills are properly used, Major Haller said.

The Hawaii Air Guardsmen
are also helping, said spokesman Maj. Charles Anthony.

A KC-135 Stratotanker
has flown a Department of Defense forensics team to Thailand to help identify
victims. Two combat communications Airmen have been sent to the same country,
he said.

Thirty-nine security
forces Airmen will provide security for U.S. forces in Indonesia, Major
Anthony said.

This, however, is just
the beginning of what world officials said they believe will be a long relief




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R.I. Lawmaker Wants Life Insurance Benefits For
National Guard Members


News 12 Fox

10 January, 2005

 PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island lawmaker says he’ll
propose legislation to establish a life insurance benefit for National Guard soldiers and their

The proposal from Senator Leonidas
Raptakis would provide 250-thousand dollars in state-funded life insurance
for all Guardsmen. The state would need to kick in about 200-thousand dollars
annually to keep the program solvent.

Raptakis, a Coventry Democrat, says his
bill would be modeled after one in New Mexico.

There are 863 Guardsmen serving



Life Insurance For National Guard Bill

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January 11, 2005

A Senate
Republican President from Ankeny says he’ll file a bill that would help Iowa National Guard Members serving on
active duty get a free $250,000 life insurance policy.

He says
lawmakers must put action behind their words and that the legislation would
serve as a small token of thanks to the guard members.

More than 4,000 Iowa National Guard members have been
activated for duty, giving the state one of the highest rates of guard
mobilization in the country.



Legislator Wants To Fund Life Insurance For Pa.

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By Mark

Pa. – State government would spend nearly $1 million a year to fund
life-insurance coverage for all Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers and airmen on active federal duty under a
legislative package being unveiled Wednesday.

initiatives were announced in the past two weeks in at least three other
states – Iowa, Rhode Island and New Mexico.

The proposal
by House Minority Whip Mike Veon, D-Beaver, would pay the $16.25 monthly
premiums for $250,000 worth of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance coverage.
About 4,500 guardsmen would qualify this year, most of them serving in Iraq.

men and woman are getting called up to active duty. We should give them the
peace of mind that if, God forbid, something were to happen, their families
would be taken care of,” said Veon’s spokesman, Bob Caton.

scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to outline details of the
legislation. Caton said it would likely provide tuition assistance and may
include a waiver of hunting and fishing license fees and other provisions.

“vast majority” of guardsmen – but not all – purchase coverage
under SGLI, which is sponsored by the federal government and sold on terms
more favorable than those available on the open market, said Lt. Col. Chris
Cleaver, a Pennsylvania National Guard

welcome any program to benefit soldiers and airmen of the Pennsylvania National Guard, and picking up the tab
on the SGLI program is noteworthy,” Cleaver said.

Miskin, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, said
the Republican caucus will wait to see the details of Veon’s proposals before
rendering judgment. The General Assembly passed a law last year that provides
up to five years of tuition at state universities and colleges to the
dependent children of guardsmen and reservists killed overseas.

Gov. Ed
Rendell said his staff is working on a package of bills to address what he
says are inequities in benefits between the National Guard and military reserves.

think we’re seeing a new U.S. military that’s going to increasingly rely on
guardsmen and reservists and I think we have an obligation as a society to
give them … and their families the most protection we can,” Rendell

In New
Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson announced Jan. 4 he wants the state to pay for
$250,000 in SGLI coverage for all of its 4,000 Guard members – not just the
800 serving in Iraq or on domestic military bases. He also supports a state
income-tax exemption for military retirees and the establishment of a relief
fund for needy military families.

A Rhode
Island state senator has proposed having the state pay for SGLI coverage for
all of its guardsmen. In Iowa, the state Senate president said Monday he
backs a bill to cover life insurance premiums for the 4,000 activated members
of his state’s National Guard.

The federal
government pays the families of those killed in uniform $12,000 and
underwrites six months of their housing costs.

Hatch Vows Increase For Deceased Vets’ Families ;
Iraq Deaths: He Wants Compensation In Line With The Payments After 9-11

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Salt Lake
Tribune (Utah)

14, 2005, Friday

By Christopher
Smith , The Salt Lake Tribune

— Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch is vowing to boost the federal payments families of
service members killed in Iraq receive to bring the amount closer to the
multimillion-dollar government awards to the families of Sept. 11 victims.

personally resent the lack of financial support we give our military with
regards to the deaths of young men and women in the field,” Hatch said
in an interview. “Contrast that with how we treated the 9-11 victims’
families. I’m going to do everything in my power to rectify that.”

average award to families from the government’s Sept. 11 Victims Compensation
Fund was $ 2.1 million, although the nearly 3,000 death benefit payouts from
the fund ranged between $ 250,000 to $ 7.1 million. Nearly 2,700 payments
were made to people injured in the 2001 terrorist attacks at an average of $
400,000 each, ranging between $ 500 and $ 8.6 million.

created the fund in part to protect the airline industry from crippling
lawsuits. Eligible families who accepted the lump sum payments signed away
their right to sue any U.S. entity over the 9-11 deaths.

contrast, surviving unmarried spouses of U.S. military service members who
die on active duty or whose death resulted from a service-related injury or
disease receive a monthly payment from the Department of Veterans Affairs of
$ 993. The benefit, which is adjusted annually for the cost-of-living, also
pays $ 247 monthly per surviving dependent child up to age 18. If a surviving
spouse remarries before age 55, the VA payments stop.

 The VA
also allows survivors to retain active-duty military health and dental care
benefits for three years from the date of the service member’s death,
provides a $ 680 monthly educational benefit to surviving dependents
attending college between the ages of 18 and 26, and makes veteran home loan
benefits available to unmarried surviving spouses.


has not yet drafted legislation and couldn’t specify how much he would raise
the benefit level or how the increase would be funded. National Guard personnel and reservists killed in combat would be
eligible under the plan.

But he said
the current federal compensation package for families of soldiers killed in
action is woefully inadequate.

believe we ought to take care of widows and children of the young men and
women who give their lives for us and we ought to do so in a reasonably
strong fashion,” he said.

service organization officials said they welcomed Hatch’s pledge to hike
death benefits for active duty members. But they expressed skepticism that
such a dramatic jump in entitlement funding would jibe with the fiscal
austerity preached by Republican congressional leadership and the White

the deficits they are facing and now with Congress talking about freezing VA
benefits and even reducing benefits, I don’t know if the atmosphere is
receptive to something like that,” said Doug Robertson, national
legislative director for the American Legion, the largest veterans’
organization in the country. “At the same time, I love Senator Hatch to
death and I doubt you would find any veterans’ organization saying this is
terrible idea.”

isn’t alone in calling for better financial security for military service
members’ families. When Congress reconvenes later this month, Sen. Joe
Lieberman, D-Conn., and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., will introduce their
Honoring Every Requirement of Exemplary Service (HEROES) Act to increase the
maximum life insurance coverage for service members to $ 400,000 from the
current $ 250,000 cap. It would also raise the death gratuity paid to
families of service members killed in combat to $ 100,000.

Hatch said
his quest to have the federal government do more for veterans’ families stems
from his personal experience. The World War II death of his older brother
Jesse Morlan Hatch, a B-24 nose-gunner who was killed on a mission to destroy
Nazi oil supplies when Hatch was 10 years old, profoundly affected him.





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Iraq War Vets Fight An Enemy At Home – Experts
say up to 30% May Need Psychiatric Care


Francisco Chronicle

January 17,

Julian Guthrie, Chronicle Staff Writer

The nation’s
military system is quietly preparing for one of its toughest missions in
decades: ensuring that soldiers who return from Iraq get the help they need
to deal with the stress and horrors of war.

officials and mental health providers predict that up to 30 percent of
returning soldiers will require psychiatric services — a number not seen
since the end of the Vietnam War.

And, after
several years of double-digit increases in federal funds for veterans health
care, the 2005 inflation-adjusted budget is only 1.5 percent higher than last

system is tremendously challenged,” said Fred Gusman, who founded the
nation’s first combat stress center in 1977 and is director of the Department
of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in
Menlo Park.

In coming
months and years, new combat veterans will struggle to adjust to life back
home, to go from leading troops to managing a family, from trusting no one to
confiding in someone.

There are
returning soldiers who feel weakened, off balance. New veterans may go out of
their way to avoid crowds. They may drive through red lights, because
stopping in Iraq meant potential ambush. Most soldiers will quickly regain
their footing, but others will need help, some for a lifetime. All will need
time and understanding, experts say.

Gusman, who
is a Vietnam veteran, said the nation should feel a deep responsibility to
“those who gave their all and now might need our all.”

The Pentagon
estimates that as many as 100,000 new combat veterans nationwide will suffer
from mental issues ranging from depression and anxiety to the more
debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder, characterized by angry
outbursts, flashbacks, nightmares and hypervigilance. An estimated 900
service members have been evacuated from Iraq since the start of war due to
psychological problems, according to the Defense Department.

hospitals and clinics will be challenged, as will the families and
communities of returning soldiers.

can’t be in a war zone and not need readjustment when you come home,” said
Kuuipo Ordway, a trauma specialist with the Concord Vet Center.

they get into a combat arena, they are in a survival mode,” said Ordway,
who since October 2003 has met with soldiers returning from Iraq. “The
neurons in the soldier’s brain shift. When they’re in a war, the soldier has
to hear and smell and do everything better. They repress a lot, but their
memory is keeping track.”

Jack Stowe
spent a year in Iraq, returning home May 1, 2004. Stowe, a member of a National Guard transportation unit out
of San Bruno, was the commander of a company that provided convoy escorts to
Army trucks around Baghdad, Tikrit and Mosul. His unit constantly came under
fire from insurgents and navigated roads sometimes rigged with improvised
explosive devices.

When he
returned, his family was thrilled to have him home and the company where he
worked installing alarms welcomed him back.

He thought
he was fine. He was alive. He had all of his limbs. He was lucky, he told

though, the problems began. He had nightmares. He felt numb. He couldn’t
connect with his wife, daughters, or sisters. Driving to work, he would see a
pile of dirt on the freeway and swerve. A bump in the asphalt made him
picture insurgents setting a trap.

there, you do your job, you keep feelings to yourself,” said Stowe, 37,
who lives in Antioch. “You have to show you are a good leader. If you
show fear, your troops will reflect that. I needed to power up to be who the
Army put me in the position to be. When I got back, I just shut down.”

Katie Stowe
recalls a party on the Fourth of July. Her husband’s sisters were there, as
were members of her family. Kids ran around. Everyone was having fun.

couldn’t even be in the same room with the group,” Katie Stowe
said.”I was kind of keeping an eye out for him. I can only imagine what
it’s like trying to kill anyone who tries to kill you, being in this mode of
always watching and fearing and living in dirt and sand and then coming home
and you’re supposed to mow the lawn.”


She says
that her husband’s numbness finally led to a call for help. “Jack was
scared something was seriously wrong with him. He didn’t want me to tell
anyone. He was initially very embarrassed. He said, ‘I didn’t lose a leg. I
didn’t lose an arm. Why should I need help?’ “

Since that
point, the two have attended therapy and counseling sessions at the Concord
Vet Center. Katie Stowe says her husband is getting better. The nightmares
and night sweats persist but seem less intense.

finally told another soldier he was going to get help and the other soldier
said, ‘Oh, so am I and so is so and so.’ “

The plight
of soldiers who survive war but suffer from its memories is not new. The
psychological wounds have been chronicled from ancient Greece to World War
II, from Vietnam to the first Gulf War. Names given to the mental traumas
afflicting soldiers have included “Soldier’s heart,” during the
Civil War, and “battle fatigue,” during World War II. The term
post-traumatic stress disorder came about in 1985 and was used to describe
the tens of thousands of struggling Vietnam veterans.

military’s mental health system is taking steps to reduce or avert the
psychological wounds of war. Soldiers are screened for psychological problems
before and after deployment. Unlike in past wars, the military now has combat
stress specialists in the war zone.

Moreno, a psychiatric technician who spent a year in Iraq, worked with troops
in the field. She is an Army reservist who was a part of the 113th combat
stress company out of Southern California.

dealt with a lot of home front issues,” said Moreno, who now works at a
veterans center in Sacramento. “We did debriefings with people who had
been in critical situations, such as when a unit got ambushed or a unit
member was killed.”

She said one
of the toughest things for soldiers in Iraq is the reality that there is no
safety zone.

don’t trust anyone when you’re over there. You live by the idea that you can
deal with anything, handle anything.”

Robinson, a 20-year Army veteran who is now executive director of the
National Gulf War Resource Center, an advocacy group, said: “I know for
a fact that the military health care system is ill prepared to deal with the
psychological impact of war.”

A study
published in July in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that
roughly one in six soldiers returning from the war in Iraq will need
psychological counseling as a result of wartime service. Robinson believes
the number will rise to one in three.

Norris, the chief financial officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs
health care system, said in an interview that the federal budget for veterans
health care this year is around $30 billion — a 1.5 percent
inflation-adjusted increase over 2004.

year there was no anxiety over the budget,” Norris said. “We had a
10 percent year-to-year increase. That was feast time. This year we will be
challenged.The bottom line is that we will continue to provide the highest
quality of care for veterans. We won’t compromise that.”

returned veteran Antonio Hernandez, who is 35 and lives in San Jose,said he
is coping with the night and day changes in his life. He says he is not in
treatment, but wouldn’t resist if he began having problems.

an Army reservist who spent 16 months in Iraq, was always on guard. Every
day, every night, there was danger. As a convoy escort, he came under
constant fire.

Now he
manages a Hollywood Video store.

“I do
feel lucky to be home,” he said. “But I never get rid of the gory
images. I lost my ability to trust. You see cute kids coming at you in Iraq.
That could be a decoy. The same with women in their burkas. My kids and wife
will never understand what I went through. I’m in my homeland, but I perceive
life differently. Every day, there is something that reminds me of what I
have been through.”




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Guard General Says Steps Now Will Prevent Future


 American Forces Press Service

January 13, 2005

By Donna

The United States “should never go to war without its National Guard,” the chief of
the National Guard Bureau said during an interview today on CNN’s
“American Morning.”

stressing that he supports the National Guard’s key role in U.S. military operations,
Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum said
during CNN interviews aired today and Jan. 12 that it’s critical that
political and military leaders take measures now to ensure the Guard is
manned, trained and equipped to keep up its current pace.

The general
said he’s requested $20 billion for the National
. Three- quarters of it is to cover equipment shortages he said
hamper the Guard’s readiness and the rest is to boost recruiting and to
sustain the Guard’s overseas operations during the next three years.

120,000 citizen-soldiers and airmen are currently deployed all over the
world, and the National Guard and reserves will soon make up a full 50
percent of the combat force in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We’re being used
as an operational force both here at home and abroad,” Blum said.


operational tempo has left the Guard short in several respects, with
recruiting falling short of goals and equipment wearing out quicker than

acknowledging that he’s “very concerned,” about shortfalls, Blum said the Guard will recover
relatively quickly, given the equipment and resources it needs, “so that
we can be always ready, always there when our nation needs us.”

The general
said he’s “optimistic” that changes under way — from increased
signing bonuses to new mobilization policies — will help boost recruiting
and retention, possibly as soon as this summer.

And despite
his concerns, he insisted that the Guard is not in a crisis mode, and that
taking steps now will prevent it from going into one down the road.

far from (being) ‘in crisis,'” Blum
said. “What I’m trying to do is alert our political leaders and our
military leaders and our policymakers that if we do not take some measures
now, and we ignore the problems that are starting to develop, we could be in

measures will help ensure that the United States has “a ready and fully
equipped National Guard
capable of responding when it’s called to duty, he said.

Blum said
America’s founding fathers never intended that the nation’s active forces
shoulder the full load of the nation’s defense alone. They “clearly
wanted a strong citizen militia that would augment a small regular Army so
that the citizenry would be behind the American soldiers when they had to go
into harm’s way,” he said.

you call up the Guard, you call up America,” Blum said. “And I
think that has a significant impact and sent a strong message to our



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