Monday, January 31, 2011

Please take it Easy on Michael Yon

On January 24th (at 9.47am) Michael Yon told his 'fans' on FaceBook page that he is a "war correspondent." Within the same long thread on FB that Yon identifies himself as that, he also plays psychologist, and sets himself up as someone far more knowledgeable than the current military who interact on a daily basis with a specific US Iraqi veteran.

[...] wrote with a poison pen,...and should be evaluated. It would be irresponsible to deploy him -- especially if he is in a position to make life/death decisions. Clearly he should not have a weapon....[...] has no business deploying or holding a weapon. I forwarded this article to a very high level. His chances of being deployed now are extremely remote.... I don't argue with insanity, but certainly will expose it if it threatens the mission or other soldiers. To cover up insanity that threatens the missions or others is a moral crime.

The above quotes (and the title of this column) were all proclamations that Yon made about a soldier he has never met. Insert the soldier's name, and you have Yon's opinions about a soldier who is serving America honorably; a soldier Yon is proudly, and loudly, determined to destroy. This despite the fact that this soldier's chain of command are very well aware of all that the soldier has faced - and dealt with. But shhhhh! Don't tell 'expert' Michael Yon that.

A few of Mr Yon's readers recently mistakenly thought Yon was discussing PTSD out of concern for those dealing with this pernicious byproduct of deploying in a war zone. Yon clarifies:

There is some misunderstanding about my intentions behind the post. Some people say I was trying to highly [sic] PTSD and then used that against a bad Soldier.. I was not highlighting PTSD. In fact, I was attempting to point out the obvious: [...] appears to be insane.

Many of Mr Yon's readers were appalled. One of those is the editor at the site War on Terror News:


YonWatch: Just a Bully

There's a fine line between the necessity to expose a malcontent and it being better to ignore him. I want to ignore Yon. I have for years and hence I did not know many of the negative actions he had taken. Yon does not want to be ignored and he will commit to all sorts of negative behavior to get attention. He may or may not have already forgotten his call to find me, but his new focus is on CJ Grisham. The behavior demonstrated here is unacceptable.


When Yon had proven his intent in the Blackfive thread
I told him this:

"Yon, I've oft stated the 1st Amendment protects the right of idiots to prove how stupid they are. I see you are using it to the fullest extent of your capacity."

At Blackfive, Yon learned a new word that described his actions: "deflection." His attacks and allegations (formed in the journalistic style of "questions") were repetitious and avoided any question that was legitimate and asked of him. Yon has now taken up way too much of my time and attention, but I will offer up his use of the 1st Amendment to allow him to expose himself for what he is. I don't repeat his repetitious threats, attacks, or demands. To see that, see the source links. Later, on Facebook, he uses his new word to deflect any questions about him.


This would almost sound like Yon was suddenly understanding of CJ, in a patronizing manner. To understand the background on this, one needs to understand that CJ Grisham has been open about having PTSD and how he is struggling to overcome the negative effects. But Yon would later clarify that his intention was not at all to ask readers to honor the trials that come with combat, but to attack Grisham and end his career.

What is clear in this thread by Yon attacking a Warrior with PTSD, is that Yon does not understand what PTSD is, nor how it is dealt with. But in the storyline, several readers step forward with messages of support for CJ's battle to overcome the effects, and at least one other steps up to say that not only does he have PTSD, but is also currently deployed and fully functioning...

War on Terror has much more, and it IS a damning indictment of Yon, using Yon's own words, as he attempts to smear - destroy - a true American hero. It IS a must read, as WOTN clearly and concisely shows Yon for what he really is:

[...]he is morally bankrupt and manipulative, and that doesn't come from PTSD.


This guy [...] is unintelligent, manipulative, hateful and spiteful. To not see that is to be handicapped.

Those words were written by Yon, in the same thread, about the US soldier. Go now, HERE and read the rest of WOTN's column about Yon the bully, and then decide, for yourself, to whom the words in that last quote REALLY apply.

No, my academic background is not in psychology, although within my area of expertise, I did crack a few psych textbooks. This gives me as much right as Michael Yon to conclude: HE should be evaluated before he is allowed anywhere near any of our troops. Michael Yon has - again - exposed himself and "he needs help." (again a Yon quote.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Goodnight Soldier by Derek Clark

Derek Clark Song, Goodnight Soldier

From Derek Clark Website "I have been so touched by these courageous men and women that I had to write a song about my feelings. In the middle of the night and in a moment of tearful reflection, I couldn’t help but think, what if one of those soldiers were my Son, Daughter, Brother, Sister, Mom or Dad? My heart is full of gratitude for all of the relatives of soldiers that are fighting for our American dream. This song reflects my appreciation for this great country that I live in and the sacrifices of past and present Soldiers which have allowed me the Freedom and Liberty that I enjoy everyday. Their courage cannot be matched. Their Loyalty to Protect our Country is amazing. They fight to protect the Freedom of Americans they have never met. Many have fallen along this journey; they are the Heroes that are engraved in my soul. It is in pure humility that I salute them. I feel the need to let this song travel through the internet in hope of showing my Gratitude for OUR Troops. God Bless our Troops and God Bless America".
Gratefully, Derek Clark
YouTube link.

H/T Carol (roomie)

VA launches new patient-friendly care centers

The Department of Veterans Affairs on Jan. 19 launched a new office intended to improve the delivery of health care within the VA system and make agency facilities more patient-friendly.

The new office, the VA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, is based in Arlington, Va., and will have four regional implementation teams at medical centers in Birmingham, Ala.; East Orange, N.J.; Dallas and Los Angeles. The four centers will be tasked with finding new patient models of care and then implementing them across the VA delivery system.

The new office “will be a living, learning organization in which we will discover and demonstrate new models of care, analyze the results, and then create strategies that allow for their translation and implementation across the VA,” said the new office’s Director Tracy Gaudet.

To read the complete official press release, go to:

(H/T Jane)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New chat feature at VA for online applications


VA Adds Chat Feature to Online Application for Health Benefits

January 18, 2011

VA Adds Chat Feature to Online Application for Health Benefits

WASHINGTON – Veterans will find it easier and faster to apply for their health care benefits now that the Department of Veterans Affairs has enhanced and streamlined its online Form 10-10EZ, “Application for Health Benefits.”

“VA is committed to tapping into the best that technology has to offer to ensure Veterans receive the benefits they have earned,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “We continue to look for new ways to improve access to care and benefits and engage Veterans.”

This revised online application now features a chat function which will allow Veterans to receive live assistance while they are filling out the form. Additional enhancements to the process include simplification of questions relating to military service in Southeast Asia during the Gulf and in the Vietnam wars. Several additional minor enhancements make the application easier and faster for Veterans to complete.

The 10-10EZ application is divided into six different sets of information, including personal information, insurance information, employment, military service, and a financial assessment. Since November 2000, nearly 400,000 Veterans have already used the online 10-10EZ to start receiving health care benefits from VA.

Future enhancements to the online application will include a 10-10 EZR Health Benefits Renewal Form for Veterans to update their personal information and a special 10-10EZ designed specifically for demobilizing military service members.

Veterans may complete or download the 10-10EZ form at the VA health eligibility Web site at

Veterans may also contact VA at 1 (877) 222-8387 (VETS), visit the VA health eligibility Web site at or apply for health care benefits at any VA medical center at with the help of a VA health care eligibility specialist.

# # #

Source: VA here

(H/T Jane)

Wednesday Hero

Cpl. Jason A. Karella
Cpl. Jason A. Karella
20 years old from Anchorage, Alaska
2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force
October 9, 2008
U.S. Marines

Cpl. Jason A. Karella died supporting combat operations in the Farah province of Afghanistan when the Humvee he was riding in rolled over. He had given up his, as his Father described "best seat in the armored Humvee" to the turret gunner who wasn't feeling well that day.

"My son was proud of what he stood for," said his father, Kevin. "He had a fiancee named Beth and he said to me, 'Dad, I don't have to worry about Beth getting blown up in a market over there because we're keeping them busy here.'"

Karella grew up in a strong military family, with his father a former chief warrant officer in the Army, and his brother Josh also having served in Iraq.

Marines recognized Karella for his incredible strength, which he used to carry large amounts of ammunition with him in the battlefield. They referred to him as "the walking ammo supply point" and "the walking arsenal." Well-respected among his peers, he was awaiting a promotion to Sergeant at the time of his death.

This page has a nice background piece on Cpl. Karell.

Information Was Found On And Copied From

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Hero

This Weeks Post Was Suggested & Written By Beth

Maj. Dick Winters
Maj. Dick Winters
92 years old from Hershey, Pennsylvania
Company E, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
January 21, 1918 – January 2, 2011
U.S. Army

Maj. Richard "Dick" Winters passed away a couple of weeks ago and Beth has written a wonderful piece honoring his service and his life.

Some of the awards Maj. Winters was honored with for his service: Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation with one Oak Leaf Cluster, American Defense Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 3 service stars and arrow device, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Croix de guerre with palm, French Liberation Medal, Oorlogskruis with palm, Belgian WWII Service Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge with 2 combat stars and the Medal of the City of Eindhoven

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

President Signed Improvements to Post-9/11 GI Bill

President Signed Improvements to Post-9/11 GI Bill

January 5, 2011

Many Non-College Programs, State Service of Reserves and Guard Covered

WASHINGTON – To bring the educational benefits of the Post-9/11 GI Bill closer to more Veterans and Service Members, President Obama signed legislation Jan. 4 that streamlines the 18-month-old education program administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“Since the first GI Bill in 1944, this unique educational program has adapted to the needs of America’s Veterans, active-duty personnel, reservists and Guardsmen,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Like its forbearers, the Post-9/11 GI Bill is growing to ensure the men and women who serve this nation in uniform receive valuable education benefits from a grateful nation.

“On behalf of Veterans and the many who serve them at VA, we would like to thank the president for his support, as well as members of Congress and our Veterans service organization partners for helping make this bill a reality,” Shinseki added.

Among the provisions of the legislation are:

· Paying for on-the-job training, some flight training; apprenticeship training and correspondence courses;

· Allowing reservists and Guardsmen to have their time supporting emergencies called by their state governors credited to the time needed to qualify for educational benefits;

· Providing one half of the national average for the program’s housing allowance to students enrolled in distance learning;

· Pro-rating the housing allowance to exclude payments when students are not in class;

· Allowing students on active duty receive the stipend for books and supplies;

· Allowing people eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, but participating in VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) benefits to choose between the GI Bill’s housing allowance or VR&E’s subsistence allowance;

· Permitting reimbursement for more than one “license and certification” test;

· Reimbursing fees to take national admission tests, such as SAT, ACT, GMAT and LSAT; and

· Establishing a national cap of $17,500 annually for tuition and fees in a private or a foreign school, not including contributions by educational institutions under the “Yellow Ribbon” program.

Information about the new provisions is available on the Internet at

By the end of December 2010, VA issued nearly $7.2 billion in tuition, housing, and stipends for more than 425,000 Veterans or eligible family members pursuing higher education under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

# # #

(source: VA here)

H/T Jane

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Suicide Prevention Alliance focuses on troops, veterans

Suicide Prevention Alliance focuses on troops, veterans

Jan 4, 2011

By American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (Jan. 3, 2011) -- A suicide prevention task force for troops and veterans has been added to a national alliance that officials hope will help bring more attention to the issues and offer solutions in the future.

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention last week announced that troops and veterans, identified as a high-risk group, were added because of their increased suicide rates.

"Combined with initiatives already under way by the Department of Defense and the [Department of Veterans Affairs], this task force will further strengthen prevention, bringing together the best minds in the public and private sectors," said Army Secretary John McHugh, co-chair of the alliance.

The alliance was launched last year by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, with input and support of many public- and private-sector stakeholders, including the National Council for Suicide Prevention and VA.

Speaking Sept. 10, 2010, at the launch of the alliance, a public-private partnership, Gates emphasized the importance of a nationwide approach to suicide prevention. The alliance's strategy pools federal and private-sector research and resources to work on addressing the national suicide rate.

"In everything we do, we must remember that every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine is part, not just of the military, but also a larger community. Their families, their hometowns, their civilian employers, their places of worship -- all must be involved in the solution," Gates said at the launch of the alliance held at the National Press Club here....

More here.

(H/T Jane)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"I hope Sarah Palin dies." Civility? Or death threats?

H/T Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion

Apart from everything else, those calling for Palin's death seem totally oblivious to the irony. Oh dear. Keep it classy, morons!!~

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday Hero

Seaman Leah King
Seaman Leah King
U.S. Navy

Ship's Serviceman Seaman Leah King brushes off excess hair after cutting a Sailor's hair inside the barbershop aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 are on a deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

Information And Photo Were Found On And Copied From

Photo courtesy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Travis K. Mendoza

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

DFAS Offers Tax Help for Military Retirees, Annuitants


8899 East 56th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46249
Press Release 0111-001
For Immediate Release

January 4, 2011

Making it easy to get your military retiree/annuitant tax statements
Indianapolis (Jan. 4, 2011) -- Now that you have the holiday decorations put away and you've begun your New Years resolutions, it's time to get things ready to file your tax returns.

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the folks who pay military retirees and annuitants through their Retired and Annuitant Pay operation, have several alternatives should your Form 1099R become lost in the mail or if you misplace it and need another copy.

Retirees and annuitants who have an active myPay account can now access their 1099R online. 1099R’s were not mailed to these users unless they have selected the hardcopy option for their annual account statement or tax forms.

1099R forms were mailed to all other retirees and annuitants between Dec. 19 and 31. According to Retired and Annuitant Pay officials, mailed forms should be received by mid-January. If you have not received yours by that time, verify DFAS has your correct mailing address by calling 800-321-1080. myPay users can check their mailing address online.

If you do not receive a 1099R by mid-January, there are three ways to obtain a replacement:

Members can view, print or save a copy of a 1099R using myPay by following the steps below:

Go to

Enter your Login ID on the home page.

Enter your password on the virtual keyboard when prompted.

Access 1099R from the “Main Menu” by clicking on the "Tax Statement" option.

View, print or save tax statement. Those who have trouble reading the graphic version should click the “Text Version” link.

Users who have trouble accessing myPay should call 888-332-7411 and select option number 5. Customer support is available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. Videos that explain how to use myPay are available at
Automated Phone System:

Call R&A Pay at 800-321-1080.

Select option 4 to request a 1099R 24 hours a day, seven days a week without waiting to speak to a customer service representative.

Enter your Social Security Number using your touch-tone keypad when prompted.

1099R should arrive in 7 to 10 business days.
If you are still experiencing difficulties and need to speak to a customer service representative, you should call 800-321-1080 Tuesday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. EST and select option 0. In the event that call volumes are high and DFAS is unable to serve customers as quickly as we would like, you may experience a “courteous disconnect” informing you that you are either being routed back to the automated system or requesting that you call back at another time. This avoids long delays caused by excessive wait times.

Written request:
Write a short letter requesting a new copy of your 1099R.

Include your name, Social Security Number, mailing address, signature and date.

Fax your request to 800-469-6559 or mail it to:

Defense Finance and Accounting Service
U.S. Military Retirement Pay
P.O. Box 7130
London, KY 40742-7130
Defense Finance and Accounting Service
U.S. Military Annuitant Pay
P.O. Box 7131
London, KY 40742-7131

A 1099R copy should arrive in about two weeks.

[H/T Jane]

Monday, January 10, 2011

RIP Roy Chelsen
Fire Fighter Roy Chelsen
(courtesy of BeTheMatch)

We just lost another 9/11 HERO:

Heroic 9/11 first responder Roy Chelsen loses battle with cancer at 51

BY Barry Paddock
Roy Chelsen, seen here in 2006, saved the lives of many firefighters on Sept. 11, 2001.
Bennett for News
Roy Chelsen, seen here in 2006, saved the lives of many firefighters on Sept. 11, 2001.

Roy Chelsen, a heroic 9/11 first responder, died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He was 51.

On 9/11, Chelsen, of Engine 28 in Manhattan, rushed a group of firefighters out of the World Trade Center's north tower moments before it collapsed, saving their lives.

Then he stayed on at Ground Zero, spending weeks digging through the rubble. He was later diagnosed with incurable bone-marrow cancer linked to his time there.

Blood drives were organized in his honor, and last month, he received a stem-cell transplant after a long and difficult search for a matching donor.

"This was so sought after that once he finally got the match we were calling it his new birth date," said Kevin Murray, a friend and fellow firefighter. "He got the match - finally - after five years."

Murray is among the firefighters who credit Chelsen with saving his life on 9/11. Chelsen saw the south tower collapse and returned to the north tower to tell firefighters there to flee.

"We ran out of the north tower because of him," Murray said. "He ran back through all the jumpers to grab us and rush us out."...

Read more here.

On a Facebook page is this:

Be The Hero for a Hero - Help Roy Chelsen find a Donor

My friend Roy Chelsen worked at my firehouse Engine 28 Ladder 11 for 22 yrs. He was in the WTC collapse on 9/11 and actually saved many FFs lives including mine..(more here)

There is also a transcript of an interview Roy did with a task force about the events of 9/11:


Roy is firefighter
first grade in Engine 28 of the New York
City Fire Department. We're at the quarters
of Engine 28. This interview is regarding
the events of September 11th, 2001.

Q. Roy, would you please tell your story
in your own words about what happened that day
from when you received the alarm.

A. We were actually sitting in the
kitchen, the lieutenant and I, and we actually
heard the first explosion. We both looked at
each other, and we were like, "Oh, what was
that?" It seemed like right after that the alarm
came in and we were on our way downtown.
We took the FDR Drive down, and you
could actually see the building pretty much the
whole way down. The whole three-quarters of the
way up was engulfed in fire. We went down
underneath the Battery Tunnel. We came up. It
was still like flags falling. It seemed like it
was very quiet. I noticed that Bob, the
chauffeur, was kind of swerving around. Later on
I heard he was going around bodies.
He dropped us off underneath the second

Q. The north bridge?

A. The north bridge up by the north tower.
He dropped us off there. We looked up to make
sure nothing was coming down, and we proceeded
in. I think the revolving doors were kind of
busted up, so I think we went through a window.
We reported to the command desk, the
command post there, and we immediately started
going up. They just said, "28, start heading

Q. Do you know what stairway you went up?

A. We went up stairway B. I believe it
was stairway B.
From there on we really didn't hear too
much transmission going on that I can remember
hearing. I had the nozzle position. I had no
radio. But I don't remember the lieutenant
telling me anything. Later on I heard that there
were a lot of maydays and a lot of transmissions
going on, but we didn't hear any of it.
One of the only transmissions I do
remember hearing, because we were sitting on
approximately the 20th floor, that there was
another plane on its way. At that point we were
still not sure that it was a plane that had hit
the tower. There was some talk from the
civilians coming down that a plane hit. The
consensus was that it was a small plane; Never
thinking it was a 737, whatever it was, 767,
whatever it was.
We made our way up to 29 or 30. We
were again resting again. All of a sudden
just -- I don't know if the sequence is right,
but everything went black, and all the power went
out. There was just this rumbling. I felt like
it went on forever....

Read the rest of his chilling account here. (Is a pdf file)

From NY Buff:

Chelsen will have a lasting lifesaving impact because of all the people he inspired to register as blood and bone-marrow donors, friends believe.

"The legacy that he'll leave is opening the door for this blood bank to get massive amounts of people in," said Pete Gleason, a former firefighter who was Chelsen's lawyer. "It saved lives during his lifetime and it will continue to save lives."

Chelsen, who lived in Warwick, Orange County, died peacefully at home surrounded by family and friends about 6 p.m. yesterday, Gleason said. He is survived by his wife, Trish, and son Christopher, 24. (here)


(courtesy of

Rest easy, Sir.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

She's Back!

No, not me! I am still planning on being incommunicado for a few more days, but in the meantime, from Monkey In the Middle comes word that another *writer* (I really cannot call her a journalist) is back in action:

Friday, January 7, 2011

She's Back!

Like rotten fish or moldy bread, this piece of garbage keeps showing up time and time again.
Former longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas has become a columnist for a free weekly paper in a Washington suburb, months after a controversy forced her from her previous post.

Thomas's first column about Social Security appeared Thursday in the Falls Church News-Press, a northern Virginia publication with circulation of about 30,000.

Thomas, 90, covered 10 presidents at the White House starting in 1960 and also had worked for UPI. She resigned in June from her latest role as a Hearst News Service columnist after saying Israelis should get "out of Palestine."...

Consider this your scary story (and picture) of the day! Read the rest, and watch a video here.

Stay tuned, and pay attention, America!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wednesday Hero

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Kathi

Jordan Brown
Jordan Brown

An 11-year-old from Lebanon County in Pennsylvania, Jordan Brown has long been fascinated by World War II and one old soldier in particular -- Dick Winters, the Easy Company commander made famous by the HBO mini-series "Band of Brothers."

Mr. Winters, a Lancaster native who lives in Hershey, is 92 and has Parkinson's disease.

But a statue of him is going up in France, and Jordan has taken it upon himself to raise money for it by selling $1 rubber wristbands in the tradition of Lance Armstrong's yellow "Live Strong" bracelets.

You can read the rest of the story here.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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Monday, January 3, 2011

9/11 Health care bill signed into law

Finally! Almost ten years after the terrorist attack in New York, that saw thousands of first responders selflessly rush in to help their fellow Americans in the terrible aftermath:

Obama signs 9/11 health bill

By Ed Henry, CNN

January 2, 2011 6:43 p.m. EST

President Barack Obama signs the 9/11 health care bill into law Sunday at his vacation rental in Kailua, Hawaii.

President Barack Obama signs the 9/11 health care bill into law

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama signed the 9/11 health bill into law in Hawaii on Sunday, White House spokesman Bill Burton said.

Obama signed the bill during his Hawaiian vacation, with no signing ceremony held. In a statement issued later, the president said he was "honored" to sign the bill, which pays for health care for responders believed to have been sickened by pollution at the ruins of the World Trade Center in New York.

"We will never forget the selfless courage demonstrated by the firefighters, police officers, and first responders who risked their lives to save others," Obama said. "I believe this is a critical step for those who continue to bear the physical scars of those attacks."...(CNN here)

My regular readers know that the people affected by 9/11 hold a special place in my heart and, to me, it is an absolute disgrace that it has taken so long to do the honourable thing for those heroes - and their families - who gave no thought for their own safety as they worked tirelessly at Ground Zero, not only on 9/11, but in the weeks and months following.

Since that time, almost 900 first responders have already died long, slow and painful deaths as a result of what they were exposed to.

I introduced readers to John McNamara, 9/11 firefighter here.

In that article (which includes a video interview John McNamara did before his premature death,) his wife Jennifer also has harsh words for the politicking that has taken the place over a genuine compassionate desire to take care of those who took care of their countrymen.

Petitions have been signed, phone campaigns have been launched, politicians have been lobbied. And the years have rolled by, and more first responders have died, and continue to struggle with major health issues as a direct result of 9/11.

John Feal, founding president of the FealGood Foundation, a group that advocates for 9/11 responders,


... that he knows of up to 80 responders who have died since the department stopped keeping track.

While lacking hard data, Feal believes that more than 900 responders have died -- a figured he called conservative.

"I still think the number is low. We cannot keep a national average; it's just impossible," he said.

"I can guarantee over the last nine years, someone from small-town America has died from 9/11-related illnesses when that small-town doctor didn't know what he was looking at," he added. "All the undocumented workers who went home, a lot of the Spanish workers, they went home and died." (here)

Back last March, I wrote a column on this issue titled: 9/11 rescuers/responders: What price heroism?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

9/11 rescuers/responders: What price heroism?

Immediately following 9/11, Christie Whitman of the EPA infamously insisted:

October 3, 2001: Officials Say ‘No Evidence of Any Significant Public Health Hazard’ near Ground Zero

EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and John Henshaw, US Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for OSHA, announce that their two agencies “have found no evidence of any significant public health hazard to residents, visitors or workers beyond the immediate World Trade Center area.” [emphasis mine]But later in the statement, they acknowledge that to date, “Of 177 bulk dust and debris samples collected by EPA and OSHA and analyzed for asbestos, 48 had levels over 1 percent, the level EPA and OSHA use to define asbestos-containing material.” Additionally, they say that out “of a total of 442 air samples EPA has taken at Ground Zero and in the immediate area, only 27 had levels of asbestos above the standard EPA uses to determine if children can re-enter a school after asbestos has been removed….” [Environmental Protection Agency, 10/3/2001] (here)

We all now know that the heroic actions of that day - and in the months following - have exacted a heavy toll on the Americans who suspended their own lives to aid in the recovery efforts. This week, the msm has been full of the story of the $657 million settlement being offered for those heroes who were not only first responders on that terrible day, but for the contractors, fire department personnel, et al; those brave souls who dedicated themselves to search and rescue - and then recovery - of all who we lost in the terrorist attack in New York. These men and women, 10,000+, spent many months breathing in the noxious, deadly legacy, with no thought for their own safety. These heroes made a moral choice to dig through rubble for months with no consideration for their own long term health.(More here)

In that column I introduced retired NYC Police Detective Gary White.

...White writes himself memos to aid his memory in his Bay Terrace home. The 9/11 first responder has cognitive difficulties stemming from a stroke brought on by illnesses he says were contracted by working at Ground Zero.In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, NYPD squad commander Gary White of Eltingville logged upwards of 100 hours at the Fresh Kills landfill, where World Trade Center debris was sifted in a recovery effort for the remains of those who were lost.

Now 55 and retired after 23 years on the job, White has cancer, suffered two strokes, has a range of neurological problems and a host of other ailments including sleep apnea.

He also suffered from post traumatic stress disorder so profound that at one point he didn't leave his home for three weeks, hanging dark sheets over the windows to keep the world away.

He attributes all of it to the events of 9/11....

Then there is:


..retired detective Al Schille, 45, of Great Kills who was first routed to St. Vincent's and Beekman hospitals to await the arrival of survivors of the Twin Towers who never came.

He then made his way to Ground Zero with a colleague to search for the man's firefighter son who was never found.

In the weeks that followed, Schille spent 300 hours at Fresh Kills, "sifting through ash that big dump trucks would dump. We went through it with rakes, shovels, our hands, going through it, looking for anything, pieces of flesh, fragments of bone."

He developed chronic back pain and then cancer. Despite near-debilitating treatments, "I wanted to go back to work," said Schille, who finally retired in 2007. "But my bones are too compromised to do anything."

Please go back and read that column here, and meet just a few of the American heroes who have paid very dearly for stepping up - no, running - to serve in the dark days of 9/11.

That column was written when $657 million was on the table as offered settlement. All through these long years since 9/11, as our heroes have been getting very sick, and dying, Washington has been politics as usual. I don't know at this point what the final dollar figure will be to adequately care for any of our 9/11 first responders. I DO know that no amount of care not money that we can pay the thousands - yes, thousands - who still suffer and still are dying because of split second decisions they each made to serve America can adequately compensate them.

As my friend Poet Warrior said, in part, as a comment on that column:

...That being said, everything always comes down to money. You are all complaining about the government, but it all comes back to taxpayers. Simply put, just take care of these people. The real problem is the it should not even have taken legal action. The waste of funds is there. [...]They could care less about the patriots who selflessly served in this incredible time. If the government had stepped up and done what was right without all the crap it would have saved millions, served its people, avoided all this negative garbage, and we would not be here...

So today we have headlines and the photo of BHO signing a bill that says it will take care of our 9/11 first responders and their families.

Will this bill meet the needs of them all? I very much doubt it. But at least it is a step in the right direction: an acknowledgment of our moral obligation, to commit to making a real effort to take care of those who took care of their countrymen. Now is a time for all of us to keep paying attention, to ensure the government does, indeed, honour this bill in not just words, but by their actions.