Saturday, March 5, 2011

Troop Deaths Double In Afghan Surge

.KABUL -- The number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan has roughly doubled in the first three months of 2010 compared to the same period last year as Washington has added tens of thousands of additional soldiers to reverse the Taliban's momentum.

Those deaths have been accompanied by a dramatic spike in the number of wounded, with injuries more than tripling in the first two months of the year and trending in the same direction based on the latest available data for March.
U.S. officials have warned that casualties are likely to rise even further as the Pentagon completes its deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and sets its sights on the Taliban's home base of Kandahar province, where a major operation is expected in the coming months.
  "We must steel ourselves, no matter how successful we are on any given day, for harder days yet to come," Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a briefing last month.
In total, 57 U.S. troops were killed here during the first two months of 2010 compared with 28 in January and February of last year, an increase of more than 100 percent, according to Pentagon figures compiled by The Associated Press. At least 20 American service members have been killed so far in March, an average of about 0.8 per day, compared to 13, or 0.4 per day, a year ago.
  The steady rise in combat deaths has generated less public reaction in the United States than the spike in casualties last summer and fall, which undermined public support in the U.S. for the 8-year-old American-led mission here. Fighting traditionally tapers off in Afghanistan during winter months, only to peak in the summer.
After a summer marked by the highest monthly death rates of the war, President Barack Obama faced serious domestic opposition over his decision in December to increase troops in Afghanistan, with only about half the American people supporting the move. But support for his handling of the war has actually improved since then, despite the increased casualties.
  The latest Associated Press-GfK poll at the beginning of March found that 57 percent of those surveyed approved his handling of the war in Afghanistan compared to 49 percent two months earlier. The poll surveyed 1,002 adults nationwide and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.
Michael O'Hanlon, a foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution, said the poll results could partly be a reaction to last month's offensive against the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in Helmand province, which the Obama administration painted as the first test of its revamped counterinsurgency strategy.
  Some 10,000 U.S., NATO and Afghan forces seized control of the farming community of about 80,000 people while suffering relatively few deaths. But the Taliban continue to plant bombs at night and intimidate the locals, and the hardest part of the operation is yet to come: building an effective local government that can win over the loyalty of the people.
"My main thesis ... is that Americans can brace themselves for casualties in war if they consider the stakes high enough and the strategy being followed promising enough," O'Hanlon said. "But such progress in public opinion is perishable, if not right away then over a period of months, if we don't sustain the new momentum."
  A rise in the number of wounded - a figure that draws less attention than deaths - shows that the Taliban remain a formidable opponent.
The number of U.S. troops wounded in Afghanistan and three smaller theaters where there isn't much battlefield activity rose from 85 in the first two months of 2009 to 381 this year, an increase of almost 350 percent. A total of 50 U.S. troops were wounded last March, an average of 1.6 per day. In comparison, 44 were injured during just the first six days of March this year, an average of 7.3 per day.
The increase in casualties was partly driven by the higher number of troops in Afghanistan in 2010. American troops rose from 32,000 at the beginning of last year to 68,000 at the end of the year, an increase of more than 110 percent.
"We've got a massive influx of troops, we have troops going into areas where they have not previously been and you have a reaction by an enemy to a new force presence," said NATO spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale.
  The troop numbers have continued to rise in 2010 in line with the recent surge. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that a third of the additional forces, or 10,000 troops, are already in Afghanistan. They plan to have all 30,000 troops in the country before the end of the year.
  U.S. officials have said they plan to use many of the additional forces to reassert control in Kandahar province, where the insurgents have slowly taken territory over the past few years in an effort to boost their influence over Kandahar city, the largest metropolis in the south and the Taliban's former capital.
  Many analysts believe the Kandahar operation will be much more difficult than the recent Marjah offensive because of the greater dispersion of Taliban forces, the urban environment in Kandahar city and the complex political and tribal forces at work in the province.
  The goal of both operations is to put enough pressure on the Taliban to force them to the negotiating table to work out a political settlement to end the war - a process the U.S. believes will only gain momentum once the militant group has lost traction on the battlefield.
"Until they transition to that mode, then we will have fighters ready to take shots at us and plant IEDs (improvised explosive devices)," said Lt. Col. Calvert Worth Jr., commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines Regiment in central Marjah.

It was not that long ago that the Russian military were beaten by the Afghan's, only because the Afghan's were receiving help from the CIA. They have been fighting over there for hundreds of years. What makes us think that we can change that? Just bring our boys home.     theblogmeister

Friday, March 4, 2011

Making it Back Home; For What?

One of the most heart wrenching stories I have read is stories of veterans, after surviving the horrors of war, are dealing with the traumatic events that they did not know was as deadly as an enemies bullets. PTSD has become an epidemic in our armed forces and the result of this disorder, left untreated, can be as dangerous as the war itself. Larry Shaughnessy, a CNN contributor, wrote this article about some soldiers in Ft. Hood Tx.

Four soldiers from the Fort Hood base apparently killed themselves. "This is a very tragic situation." the base commander stated.
There have been 14 other suicides at Fort Hood this year
The base is also the site of the worst shooting on a military base in decades
Four soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas died over the week. In all four cases, it appears the soldiers, all decorated veterans from the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, took their own lives, according to Christopher Haug, a Fort Hood spokesman.
If confirmed as suicides, it would be on top of 14 other suicides on the base this year. Base officials called a news conference for Wednesday afternoon to discuss the problem of suicides at the huge base in central Texas.
"Every one of these is tragic," said Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, the post commander. "It's personally and professionally frustrating as a leader."
Grimsley did not announce any major action or response during the news conference. "I don't think there is a simple answer," he said.
  The recent spate of incidents, began Friday Sept. 24 when the body of Pvt. Antonio E. Heath, 24, of Warren, New York, was found in Temple, Texas, the victim of a gunshot wound. Heath was deployed to Iraq for most of 2009 and earned a number of medals including the Army Commendation Medal.
  The next day, Master Sgt. Baldemar Gonzales, 39, of Victoria, Texas was found dead in his residence on Fort Hood. During his service he had fought in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. During that time he earned a Bronze Star, a Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, an Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters as well as numerous other decorations.
  That same day the body of Sgt. Timothy Ryan Rinella, 29, of Chester, Virginia, was found in his home in Copperas Cove, just outside of Fort Hood. He had an "apparent gunshot wound," according to information released by Fort Hood.
  Rinella served three tours of duty in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan.
And then on Sunday, Sgt. Michael F. Franklin and his wife, Jessie, were found dead of apparent gunshot wounds in their home on the post. The case is being investigated as a murder-suicide. They were the parents of a 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. Franklin served two tours of duty in Iraq in just the past four years, earning an Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters and several other decorations.
  The entire U.S, military has been focused for years on trying to stop or reduce suicides among service members. At times some have speculated that troops wouldn't seek help for emotional or mental problems because it would stigmatize them in the eyes of their comrades in arms and their commanders.
But that didn't always appear to be the case at Fort Hood this past weekend.
"Early indications are, in at least two of the cases, and I can't speak definitively about the others, a couple had been in counseling for certain things," Grimsley said.
He said the pace of Army operations, caused in large part by fighting two wars simultaneously over many years, may be one "stresser" leading to more suicides.
"We are certainly a busier force as we've ever been in my career, you put those and the other stressors of life, with finances and relationships and everything else, it's a tough life. It is a tough life," he said.
It's yet more violence for Fort Hood, which was the site of the worst shooting on an American military base in decades. On November 5 of last year, a gunman opened fire in a building on the post, killing 12 people and injuring dozens of others. Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist was shot and paralyzed by police who responded to the incident and is facing murder charges in the case.
Grimsley doesn't see a link between the the suicides and the shooting last year. "I don't draw a correlation, it's clearly in our respective psyches and will be for life. But so are all of the other things that have gone on here."
  The first testimony in Hasan's pre-trial hearing is set to start in two weeks. 

May I make a suggestion with what to do with Maj. Hasan? Give him a Bible, make surer he is in an American uniform, stuff a partially burned copy of the Koran and drop him off in the middle of a Taliban stronghold. Might as well put a sat phone in his pocket so we could listen at him begging before they chop off his head.
  Hopefully, he will get the death penalty so we won't have to pay for 3 hots and a cot for the rest of his coward ass.          I want to welcome Sheila to my blog express. I hope you enjoy it and if you don't, hell, leave me a comment.     theblogmeister


  I just read my post about Zappa and I want to explain what happened. I do not want to lose my valued readers, so, I feel I owe you an explanation. I am about to turn 52 years old and my brother was telling me that I needed to get a preventive colonoscopy. Well, I had it done, yesterday, and that is the reason for my crazy post. The doctor must have shoved the black snake so far up my ass that he bumped into my brain. By bumping into the brain it caused my neurotransmitters to get all jumbled up. I'm pretty sure that is what happened. I cannot say for 100% certainty because the nurse gave me some stuff in my I.V. line that was the color and consistency of milk. Is dairy products used as an anesthesia, is the medical profession going green? What ever it was, when she put that stuff in my I.V. I raised my head up from my pillow to tell the nurse that shit burned like hell. Before I could even finish thinking about what I was about to tell her, my head dropped like a stone. Not a little bitty stone. I'm talking about one of those stones those aliens used to build the pyramids in Giza. Now you understand why I said that I could not be certain what, exactly, he shoved up my ass. The only thing I saw, I checked the place out while the nurse went to get some KY, and the only thing I saw in that room, other than an extension cord, which, by the way, is not near stiff enough to make it all the way to my brain, Was a black snake-looking thing about 4 ft. long with stripes on it. I am pretty sure that snake was long enough to reach my brain. The doctor could have brought something in the exam room when he came in. I just don't know. I was at Neverland ranch and the place was blasting Michael Jackson music for some reason. I did not remember even seeing a doctor. Hell, the janitor could have used his mop, for all I know. The one thing that I do know, now this is a little gross and I apologize for not having that crooked M so you won't let young'uns read this, my asshole was barking like a blue tic hound dog for the rest of the day. I appreciate you letting me apologize for the uncharacteristic writings you saw, yesterday, and I will try and do better.  Thanks    theblogmeister

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Melancholy Mind

  I have been having a hard time getting Cornbread off my mind these last few days. When he was in the Air Force and I was a senior in high school I would spend some time with him at his base in Sumter, S.C. On one of our excursions we left Bama headed to Hotlanta to see Frank Zappa live at the fabulous Fox theatre. The Fox is an awesome place to see a live show. It has great acoustics, the reason so many artist recorded live albums there. Yea, I said album. Vinyl. It was a few years ago.
 We had reserved seating in the balcony on the first row. The first row of the balcony almost put you just above the stage. We had a considerable amount of cocaine. C'mon, we were young! Zappa and the Mothers of invention put on one hell of a show. Coming from the sticks in Alabama you would never know that we owned an 8-track tape of Zappa.                                                                                                                 I dreamed I was an Eskimo, The northern winds began to blow. Under my boots and around my toes. The frost had hit the ground below. It was a hundred degrees below zero. My momma cried, Nanook, no no. Don't be a naughty Eskimo. Save your money don't go to the show.Well, I turned around and said, "Oh No." And the northern lights began to glow. She said, "Don't go baby," with a tear in her eye. Watch out where the huskies go and don't you eat that yellow snow. Well, right about that time people, a trader who was strictly from commercial. Had the unmitigated audacity to jump up from behind that igloo and said Peek-a-boo. He started in to whipping on my favorite baby seal, Whop! with a lead-filled snow shoe. He went right up side the head of my favorite baby seal, he went Whop, and he hit him on the nose and on the fin. That got me just about as evil as an Eskimo boy can be so I bent down and I reached down and I scooped up a generous mitten full of the deadly yellow snow crystals and I rubbed it all into his beady little eyes with a bigger circular motion hither unknown to the people in this area but destined to take the place of mythology. Here it goes, now, the circular motion. Rub it! Well he stood up and looked around and you know what he said? "I can't see. I can't see. Oh, woe is me. I can't see."  We go trudging across the tundra, mile after mile until we enter the tiny little Parrish of St. Alfonzo. Yes, indeed here we are. At St. Alfonzo's tiny breakfast. Where I stole the margarine. I saw a handsome Parrish lady, make her entrance like a queen. She was totally senile and her name it was Maurine.    I have to stop, there. I got off on a song by Zappa from the album, Apostrophe. Now I forgot what I was writing about. Oh yea, my brother. Cornbread died March 3, 1989 and my life has not been the same, since. I think about him everyday. Those lyrics were dedicated to you, my brother. Lord knows we laughed a lot at those Zappa 8-tracks. I can't believe that I remembered the lyrics to that song. As you may have noticed that Frank Zappa is a little weird. He named his daughter Moonunit. I think his son's name is Dweisel. The dude claimed he never did any drugs. Yea, right, and we never landed on the moon, it was a stage prop from somewhere in California. Hope you made sense out of what I wrote. If you did, you are smarter than me. I just wanted you all to know what a great guy my brother was. I wish you all the same relationship with your sibling. Alive, of course. I have enjoyed visiting that portion of my brain that catalogues musical lyrics. That has to be the largest part of my brain, of what few brain cells I have left. If this crazy train took your mind off something that is bothering you then that is why I wrote it.  Thanks,   theblogmeister

Free Speech?

  Yesterday was a sad day for the families of our brave soldiers that lost their life in combat. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 that gives the right for a bunch of inbred deviates that belong to a church in Kansas the green light to stand outside of a fallen soldiers funeral and harass the families during the funeral. You know who I am talking about. Justice Alito wrote the lone dissent and I want him to know that his interpretation of the constitution dealing with free speech is great. He was the only one that had the balls to interpret the inherent right drafted by our forefathers in the proper manner. I do believe that all Americans have the right to protest and have the right of free speech. Those that drafted our constitution must be rolling in their graves. These assholes, I am being kind, travel across the nation just to show the public what evil people, that pretend to be Christians, do at veteran's burial services. I am surprised that they can even find their way out of Kansas. I have a son that is in the military and if he were killed in action and these ingrates showed up at his funeral I promise you that it would be the last time they protest anything. I do not think a jury would convict me for temporary insanity. They sing that God hates America but the fact is they would not live anywhere else. That is what pisses me off. If you, and I am talking to that greaser tree jumping pastor, do not like America then get the hell OUT! What gives you and your idiotic congregation the right to invade the privacy of a grieving family by holding up ridiculous signs and shouting out moronic slogans? To expose your children, and I would not be surprised if you were the father of them all, to disrespectful attitudes of your warped religious beliefs. You, the right reverend Fred Phelps, and all of your lunatic followers will burn in hell. I would like to see you go through a little bit of hell, yourself, that is why I am posting your cell phone number so all of my readers can tell you what kind of dog shit you are. Mr. Phelps cell number is (785) 237-0325. Let us all show Mr. Phelps the disrespect he deserves.      theblogmeister

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

PTSD: The Silent Killer

  PTSD-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a silent killer. It comes in many forms, however, our brave servicemen suffer the most. This article, written by Jason Notte, tells of how this disorder is ravaging our military. These brave men and women suffer in silence and we should not let them do it alone. If you happen to cross paths with one of our brave soldiers tell them how proud we are of their sacrifices. Because of them we are able to speak our mind in a free society. The recent turmoils in the middle east and Northern Africa is the reason I am posting this story.

FORT HELL: Retired Army staff sergeant Andrew Pogany suffered from hallucinations and panic attacks while on active duty in September 2003 — the result, he says, of mandatory medication administered by the military. Since then, 17 of his fellow servicemen from Fort Carson, Colorado, have committed suicide.
  Upon returning from Iraq, 23-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Jeffrey Michael Lucey suffered episodes of such intense war-induced rage that he'd often need to be consoled by his parents, who would rock him back to normalcy in their laps. On July 22, 2004, unable to handle the intensity anymore — the daily vomiting, the feeling that he was a murderer, the fear that none of his military higher-ups even cared — Lucey wrapped a garden hose around his neck in the basement of his family's Belchertown, Massachusetts, home and hanged himself.
  During his last visit to the Northampton VA Medical Center in Leeds for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — a three-day stint in the hospital's psychiatric ward almost six weeks before he killed himself — Lucey had been prescribed a number of antipsychotic drugs, including Klonopin, Ativan, and Haldol. He was also given warnings that they not be taken with alcohol. Two days after his release, he destroyed his parents' car in an apparent suicide attempt. A little more than a month before he killed himself, say his parents, Kevin and Joyce Lucey, he was refused mental-health treatment by the Department of Veterans Affairs (known as the Veterans Administration until the late 1980s, but still commonly referred to as the VA) because he'd been drinking heavily. The Luceys insist that the VA focused on a symptom (the drinking) instead of the actual cause of his mental deterioration: PTSD.
  In January 2008, the Luceys were awarded a $350,000 settlement from the VA, which admitted no wrongdoing in their son's suicide. This past Thanksgiving, the Luceys were once again left with an empty seat at the table and emptiness in their hearts. A few days before the holiday, they distributed a letter through the non-profit organization Veterans for Common Sense, which used Lucey's story as a cautionary tale for other veterans and their families.
  Another front has opened in the wars being fought by the US military, and it is one for which the Pentagon was as unprepared as it was for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The primary (though not the only) enemy is PTSD, and to fight it, US troops are desperately being prescribed a wide array of medicines, from anti-depressants to anti-anxieties. They are also self-medicating in numbers beyond the control of the Department of Defense (DoD) or the VA, and the military has failed to provide adequate long-term treatment and follow-up care. America's troops both in the Iraqi conflict and in the one in Afghanistan are literally fighting their wars on drugs — and a record number of both active troops and discharged veterans are committing suicide.
  Tragic stories like Lucey's are becoming more commonplace. The journal Military Medicine found that, during an 11-month period in 2004, 30 percent of soldiers evaluated by mental-health staff in Iraq said they had considered suicide within the past week. (A DoD intelligence-center report on psychotropic drugs acknowledges this finding.) Of those, almost 64 percent said they had specific plans to kill themselves.
  Four years later, the situation has worsened. The Army announced in January 2009 that its suicide rate hit 138 — or little more than 20 per 100,000 — this past year, which surpassed previous highs of 115 in 2007 and 102 in 2006. (That's also higher than the suicide rate for the general population, which is 19.5 per 100,000.) And just this past week, the Army said it was investigating 24 potential suicides committed by troops in January and another 18 committed in February, up from 11 suicides in February 2008. If those numbers hold true, it will confirm what many have recently started to fear: that, for the first time since the wars began, monthly US troop deaths by suicide will have outpaced deaths in combat, and for two months in a row.
  Among veterans, suicides are exponentially more frequent. The VA announced in September that 46 out of every 100,000 male veterans between the ages of 18 and 29 killed themselves in 2006, compared with 27 the year before. (For women, there was a slight improvement, as it was three in every 100,000, compared with eight in 100,000 the year before.)
  Internal conversations at the VA suggest the situation is dire. According to court documents, when asked by the VA's media adviser in early 2008 whether it was true that 1000 veterans a day were attempting suicide, VA Director Ira Katz sent back an e-mail entitled "Shhh," confirming the number, but suggesting it be kept under wraps until the VA figured out the answer to this question: "Is the fact that we're stopping them good news, or is the sheer number bad news?"
  PTSD is the acknowledged root cause of most of the suicides. The RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research, a nonpartisan global-policy think tank, estimated this past year that 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from PTSD, or about 19 percent of all troops who have served in the two wars. The impact of that astonishing number is difficult to articulate (although Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz has theorized that the true cost of the wars, including post-war veterans care, will reach nearly $3 trillion — see "Iraq: Five Years Later," March 12, 2008, at Treatments are slow, expensive, and highly individualized. So even when the Pentagon does diagnose traumatized personnel in time (that is, before they harm themselves or others), it merely doles out quick-and-dirty medications that may hide symptoms — then too often redeploys those troops overseas, anyway.
  Untold numbers of traumatized active-duty US troops — specifically large numbers of those that John McCain praised during his failed presidential campaign for manning the "surge" — are taking prescription drugs with little or no medical supervision. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), mood enhancers, painkillers, and anti-anxiety medicines — Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, morphine, Valium, Ambien, Zoloft — are ill-advisedly helping unfit-for-duty soldiers keep it together on the battlefield. The DoD appears to be aware of this, but its policies allow for such drugs to be taken in combat, regardless of side effects. When the troops return home, doctors and vets say the cash-strapped VA has little more to offer than further medication and group therapy, which hardly assuage a vet's trauma or curb his dependence on prescription drugs.
  March 17, 2009 According to numbers obtained by the Phoenix from the VA via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, of the 5439 Iraq and Afghanistan vets treated (for any symptoms) in Massachusetts since 2003, 277 were treated for prescription-drug addiction. That includes 147 treated in Boston.
"When we started out in 2004, we thought [soldiers' families] would need us a lot more when individuals were deployed, and [figured that] then the guys would come home and, in a couple of months, everybody would be fine," says Dr. Jaine Darwin, co-director of Needham-based nonprofit group Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists (SOFAR), which gives free psychological care to families of reservists and National Guardsmen deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. "That's just not what has happened."
Darwin says that, all too often, upon returning, the soldiers cannot relate to their families — their wives, their kids, their parents. They are completely alienated from everything and everyone they knew before. "The fact is that there is no normal," she says. "There's the new normal, and the new normal is how you negotiate relationships between separations and reunions."
Other factors :
Army Special Forces Staff Sergeant Andrew Pogany describes a young soldier's fatal overdose the way you might order soup at a deli: in plain English and without embellishment. "They labeled the kid a liar and a drug seeker, then he went home and
overdosed, and now he's dead."
  Such are the effects of half a decade of dealing with the military justice system. It's been that long since Pogany himself suffered hallucinations and panic attacks in September 2003 — which he claims are a result of taking Lariam, an anti-malaria medication that the military orders troops to take — and just as long since military doctors prescribed sleeping pills to wash away Lariam's side effects. Pogany has seen 17 other servicemen from his former base in Fort Carson, Colorado, commit suicide during that same of time.
  In early 2004, Pogany faced a court-martial (and a possible death sentence) for cowardice. Acquitted, he later that year was medically retired from the Army with an honorable discharge, at which point he moved to Washington, DC, to become an investigator for the National Veterans Legal Services Program, an independent agency that provides legal assistance to veterans with difficulties similar to his own. Throughout his ordeal, Pogany says, he has learned all too well what stress can do to a soldier, and says the military hasn't learned a thing. Troops who evidence symptoms of being what Pogany calls "suicides in the making," he claims, "are being overlooked and they are being ignored."
  PTSD is just one root cause of the spike in US troop suicides. Other theories finger such suspects as, among others, Army-issued medicines (such as Lariam), lowered recruiting standards, and multiple deployments for troops.
  While no direct links have been drawn between either Lariam or increased use of psychotropic drugs and a growing military-suicide rate, their parallel course is, at best, inconvenient. Also eye-opening on the medicinal front, according to the US Army Medical Department's 2008 mental-health report, at least 13 percent of US troops in Iraq and 17 percent of US troops in Afghanistan are taking antidepressants, anxiety medication, or sleep aids. This adds to the New England Journal of Medicine's 2004 finding (the most recent statistics available) that 11 percent of military recruits had psychiatric histories before entering the military and the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center's May report, which found that the same percentage of surveyed active-duty personnel had at least one prescription for psychotropic medication within a year of deploying.
  According to numbers obtained by the Phoenix from the VA via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, of the 5439 Iraq and Afghanistan vets treated (for any symptoms) in Massachusetts since 2003, 277 were treated for prescription-drug addiction. That includes 147 treated in Boston.
  "When we started out in 2004, we thought [soldiers' families] would need us a lot more when individuals were deployed, and [figured that] then the guys would come home and, in a couple of months, everybody would be fine," says Dr. Jaine Darwin, co-director of Needham-based nonprofit group Strategic Outreach to Families of All Reservists (SOFAR), which gives free psychological care to families of reservists and National Guardsmen deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. "That's just not what has happened."
Darwin says that, all too often, upon returning, the soldiers cannot relate to their families — their wives, their kids, their parents. They are completely alienated from everything and everyone they knew before. "The fact is that there is no normal," she says. "There's the new normal, and the new normal is how you negotiate relationships between separations and reunions."

I have been treated for PTSD for several years, now. I do not portend to be in the same class as the brave men and women in our military, today. I do have an understanding of what is going on and I pray for those afflicted.            theblogmeister


Obsessed With Death?

  It seems as you read my blog that I have a morbid fascination with death. To the contrary, my fascination is what happens after death. Causing the death of a patient when I was in my teens have given me this curiosity of the reasons one would choose death and the results of death. I was deeply affected by the way my patient, Colonel DeBarge, manipulated me into ending his life. He convinced me that it was the noble thing to do. I did not grant him his wishes without many sleepless nights and deep concerns of my own spirituality. The Bible states thou shall not kill. I had a real hard time rationalizing committing the act that went against my beliefs. You have to understand that I was up against a brilliant mind and one that had all the answers why it should be done. As a teen, I had not the capacity to compete with him on an intellectual basis. I had grown to love the Colonel and his wife, Bunny. When the colonel had finally convinced me that ending his pain was the right thing to do is when the problems of my emotional stability came to light. If you are an avid reader of my blog then you know what hell I went through. It has changed me in many ways. If you are not familiar with my situation you need to go back to see what I am about. I am not a whacko but sometimes feel that I am. You need to judge for yourself. My situation is an ongoing problem and I find that writing about these problems has helped me more than anything else that I have tried. The journey is not over. There are many things left for me to do. I do it with an open mind and with the understanding that we are just small parts of a much larger machine. I will never give up hope. Thanks    theblogmeister

Death Out of This World

This is, by far, the most amazing near-death experience I have read to date. I wish to share it with you as Mr. Horton shared it with me.

My Near Death Experience

Mark A. Horton

I "died" from total kidney, liver, and respiratory shutdown. Coupled with massive internal bleeding and the associated anemia.
Since I was already in a coma, I have no idea when my NDE actually occurred. From reading my medical chart and other sup- porting information and anecdotal evidence, I presume it was on New Year's Eve, 1992. It was that evening that my kidneys had quit, my liver had ceased functioning, and the doctors had told my parents that they should contact a funeral home since it was doubtful that I would make it through the night and if I did, they would have to put me onto a kidney dialysis machine the next morning; the shock of which would probably kill me anyways. During the evening (from what I've read in the chart) I went into full respiratory arrest and was placed on a ventilator. So there I was, kidneys shut down, liver not functioning, fluid building up, getting pneumonia, and a machine breathing for me. I suspect that's when I "left." I have vague, very vague recollections of looking down on a body in a bed with tubes and machines, but I cannot honestly say that it was mine. I was, well, floating is not an adequate description, more like held up, contained, buoyed, sustained in a warm, dry, medium of some sort, suspended without pressure or any feeling of containment, just there. I felt safe, warm, calm, without pain or fogginess at all, completely aware.

Then the "experience" began.

Suddenly dusk became full, blazing daylight, except with a brightness brighter than normally associated with daylight... everything was bright as I was lifted (without any feeling or pres- sure) upwards to a high point (I assume, since I was unaware of standing on anything or for that matter aware of any "body" that I had) I was pure intellect, absorbing information and knowledge through "sensors" or means that I have no concept of. From this vantage point, I had to merely think of a place and time and I was there, experiencing everything about the place and time and people present.
  I have always, I don't know why, had a very strong "pull" toward Scotland. I have some Scottish ancestry, but no more so than English, Swedish, and Prussian, but I don't know why I have such a strong affinity for the land, its history, its culture, and the music. (No sound in this world can stir the feelings that the sound of bagpipes arise in me!) Well, one of my first "trips" was to Scotland, on a high cliff overlooking a grey, crashing sea during a violent thunderstorm. I was there! I could feel the wind lashing at me and the driving force of the rain while I could see and hear the crashing of the thunder and the sea. All I had done was have the merest fleeting thought of the land and I was there! As I've said, I have no idea why I have such a strong tie to that particular piece of space/time.
  I next thought of warm sunshine and I was in a place of bright warm light and comfort. I could discern nothing but a comforting brightness around me (such that "me" was... I still had no "body" that I remember, but had the "feeling" that I was an amorphous, glowing pure intellect... all sensors and no tangible gross physical body to drag me down or contain me. It was a truly wonderful feeling? state? being? Words just don't exist to describe this.) This was very pleasant and comforting and went on for microseconds or billions of years, I have no idea since time just wasn't an operative construct and had no meaning or relevance to existence. I literally had the feeling that I was everywhere in the universe simultaneously.
  This brightness ceased and was replaced with a view of the earth rapidly receding "below" me. I was still enveloped in a sense of warmth and comfort, but "moving" backwards at an ever- increasing velocity; the view of the earth almost instantly gave way to an overall view of our solar system which as quickly gave way to a cluster of star systems that apparently was in one of the arms of our galaxy. I was still absorbing all of this on so many different levels beyond merely what we think of as seeing as I raced outward. I could still sense the location of our planet even though at this distance that should have been impossible in the normal space/time continuum. My overall feelings were of comfort, wonder, amazement, belonging, a sense of "rightness", and overlaying it all what I can only call an overwhelming love, although that word is woefully inadequate to describe those feelings.
Still moving (backwards always for some reason) I suddenly just relaxed completely and allowed "myself" to dissolve (?) open up (?) merge (?) into the "oneness" that surrounded me. The explosion of emotion and (again words are almost useless) over- whelming "love" that I now felt made any previous feelings I had experienced even during this episode, however "long" it had/was/is going on, seem like nothing! I cannot possibly put into words that any human language has that feeling. I was everything, I was nothing. I was everywhere, I was nowhere. I was everywhere, I wasn't. My intellect had expanded to contain every thing, time, place, and even being that was, is, or ever would be! I was unique yet I was the tiniest part of the whole. I know this is sounding like gibberish... it even does to me a times when I read it on paper; but to have been it! Words don't exist to describe the joy and love and warmth. It truly is indescribable!
And I was still accelerating outward, absorbing, observing, and becoming more! Entire galaxies became the size of grains of sand. I saw immense galaxies colliding together. I saw "holes" in space that weren't holes at all, but were filled with some- thing I couldn't comprehend even in my "enhanced" state... proto- galaxies perhaps? And there were so many galaxies to see and feel; but still I could sense where our planet was... I say sense because our tiny Milky Way galaxy had vanished; I could "feel" it there, but could no longer "see" it.
And I kept going outward! I began to discern a curvature to the scene before me and realized that the universe was really a large sphere containing all the galaxies. It became more and more apparent as I moved (still backwards) into the "darkspace" beyond the sphere of galaxies. Still, the occasional galaxy whipped by as I continued moving outward. And then I "felt" a large something or presence behind me. I seemed to slow slightly and hesitate and then was through this barrier and looking down at the sphere that contained our universe. It seemed to be at once transparent and slightly opaque as if I were seeing the energy fields that contained it. The image of the electron shell of an atom seems to fit here.
I was still moving outward and could now make out around the shrinking curvature of our universe, other spheres which could only be other universes. These seemed to be arranged in some sort of order, a spherical shell of universes around a core that I could not see. And beyond this shell, another, towards which I was now speeding. The overall impression I'm left with is of something like those little carved "spheres within spheres" of ivory that one used to see in import shops.
I never made it to the next shell. As I was moving outward to the next shell layer of universes, something started pulling at me and I was suddenly racing back forwards, inward toward our universe and then inside it. The other galaxies within our uni- verse were gone and I had one last "sight" of our arm of the Milky Way galaxy and then I was back. Stunned, confused, sad, having a tremendous sense of loss, I guess at the loss of the knowledge and love and "oneness" that I had been.
My NDE was over.
I drifted in and out of a coma for some time after that, I have no idea of how long. During this time I had a mixture of strong dreams, perhaps some hallucinations if I understand how hallucinations are supposed to be - very vivid, almost concrete dreams in which the "dream-people" have real, solid, bodies and with whom one can hold logical, normal conversations, and I think short "mini-NDEs" in which I was able to experience some small fraction of the overpowering love and "oneness" that I had during my major "trip."
I guess then I started to "adjust" and begin my unconscious attempt at ignoring what had happened to me and trying to "get on with" my life. But still something was missing... that hole was still there and gnawing at my mind. Finally after almost a year I sat not thinking, I guess you could say meditating and letting my mind relax, when everything starting coming back into my conscious thoughts. I could no longer suppress these memories and knew it. So I just let them flow inward, becoming ever more strongly convinced that what I had experienced WAS real, that it wasn't just an hallucination or dream, that we are all individuals and "one" at the same time, and that the only thing important ever is love. Complete, open, giving, incredibly filling love. That is the only thing that matters. All else is superfluous.
I was changed forever. I simply am. We are all one, we are all "God." Or perhaps "God" is all of us. I have thought long on the biblical phrase "And God made man in His image." I wonder if perhaps this really means that man is created and exists in "God"'s imagination which is then man's reality. I am no biblical scholar and will not debate theologies since those are so very personal, but that possible interpretation of the biblical phrase is interesting for me to contemplate. I do not profess to any specific religion at all; never have, and definitely now never will, for they are all right and all wrong... merely man's at- tempt to quantify, regiment, and control even the spiritual aspect of the individual. I now know that living to be kind and love each other is the only true "religion" there is; if one must label something "religion." From what I've read and spoken to other NDEers about, this seems to be an almost universal feeling amongst those who've had NDEs. We may describe what we've "seen" in various religious terms depending upon background and pre-NDE beliefs, but the message of universal love and forgiveness is the same.
  So that is my experience. The aftereffects are still there and growing every day. To say it has changed me completely is at once obvious and an incredible understatement. I still am interested in computer systems and work with them as a profession, but find myself more interested in how they can truly help people as opposed to just being intellectual "toys" that perform functions and that people pay me money for designing and tuning. I've never been outwardly materialistic in the "yuppie" sense of the word, but had cherished certain possessions and worried about them; now I still cherish the beauty in things, but the possession of a thing is unimportant... I find myself giving many things away to others if they express an interest or desire for them. I'm probably labeled as a "patsy." It doesn't matter. I find myself openly crying over the sadness in the world and in people's lives. I share many of the same feelings that other NDErs have... the total lack of fear of death - it's comforting actually to think of it since it'll be a return to that state that I experienced and can now only briefly make contact with, the overwhelming sense of love for everyone and everything around me, the peaceful calm that I feel, even the sometimes painful empathic abilities that now seem to have blossomed within me - if I can somehow relieve another's suffering by taking it from them and into me, I do so gladly.
  In summary I suppose the question many would ask is "was it worth dying?"
I would have to answer joyfully, "Yes!"

If you have an experience that you wish to share please contact me through my email or leave your comment. Thanks                       theblogmeister

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

No Goodbye

  It was a Wednesday, twenty-two years ago at this very moment when I last saw my brother alive. I was visiting my mother when Chaz walked in with that brightness of life in his eyes and the boyish grin. The first thing that he noticed was my earring that I had put in the day before. "What is this?" I remember him saying as he thumped my ear lobe with his finger. I was a little embarrassed about it, I do not know why. Chaz was a couple years older than I and we were the best of friends. After a little wrestling around and taking some heat from him I told him that I would see him, later. I had no idea that would be the last time I would ever see, or speak to my brother, again. Two days later, he was dead. The life taken in the blink of an eye by an automobile accident. I got a call the next Friday that he had been in an accident and I picked my mother up to take her to the hospital. This was nothing new. He had many accidents. Most because of drinking and driving and this, we thought, was just another car crash, praying that no one else was hurt. That was my biggest fear, that he would injure or kill someone. When we reached the hospital we were told to wait in the ER waiting area. I could see through the doors to the cubicle that my brother was being treated. There was a lot of activity, lots of people in and out of his cubicle. My mom sat in stoned silence. I think she knew. The one thing I was sure of was this would turn out just like all the others. He would be admitted for observation and let go the next day. I tried to reassure my mom that he was okay. I believed that. After about 30 minutes the staff left his cubicle. I was waiting for permission to go see him when a doctor and two nurses came out and asked for the Riley family. I heard the words "We did all that we could do, I am sorry." My mind could not grasp what the doctor was saying. The next few hours were a blur. I had ran my fist through every glass door in the waiting room and ripped chairs that were bolted to the floor out of their moorings. Death had, once again, tore through me as it had before. I had lost my brother, my best friend, and my mind. Why? Why? That is an answer I have yet to learn.     theblogmeister

There has to be a life after this life. There are countless stories of near death experiences. Here is another of many.

   For Laura Geraghty, April 1, 2009, started out just as any other day. It was sunny but cool, she remembers.
Laura Geraghty was shocked 21 times before she came back from cardiac arrest with tales of the afterlife.
The mother of two, also a grandmother, was at her job, driving a school bus for the Newton Public School District in suburban Boston, Massachusetts.
Her passengers, special-needs children, were wheelchair-bound.
Seemingly in good health and in good spirits, Geraghty was finishing up her late-morning run, transporting a student and teacher back to Newton South High School, when she realized she was in trouble.
As she was pulling into the school parking lot, she began having sharp stomach pains. She was able to park her bus, but she kept feeling worse.
The pain "went right up my arm and into my chest, and I said, 'Uh-oh, I'm having a heart attack,' " she said.
The teacher ran from the bus to get help. Newton South's nurse, Gail Kramer, and CPR instructor Michelle Coppola arrived moments later with the school's new automated external defibrillator.
Geraghty, barely conscious, was fading fast. She was weak and having trouble breathing. And then she went into full cardiac arrest.
"Her eyes were wide, and all of a sudden she stopped talking to us," Coppola said. "I grabbed the two pads, stuck them on her, started it up, and I'd say within 20 seconds, she had her first shock."
Coppola and Kramer performed CPR while they waited for paramedics.
At that point, Geraghty says, her body died. She remembers watching the scene unfold -- as if from above.
"I floated right out of my body. My body was here, and I just floated away. I looked back at it once, and it was there."
Geraghty says she saw deceased loved ones, her mother and her ex-husband.
"It was very peaceful and light and beautiful. And I remember like, when you see someone you haven't seen in a while, you want to hug them, and I remember trying to reach out to my ex-husband, and he would not take my hand. And then they floated away."
Next, she says, she was overwhelmed by "massive energy, powerful, very powerful energy."
"When that was happening, there were pictures of my son and my daughter and my granddaughter, and every second, their pictures flashed in my mind, and then I came back."
What Geraghty had was a near-death experience, fairly common in people who go into sudden cardiac arrest.
Geraghty was down for 57 minutes. No blood pressure, no pulse, no oxygen, no blood flow. She was shocked 21 times before she finally came back with tales of the afterlife.
Dr. Kevin Nelson, a neurologist in Lexington, Kentucky, studies near-death experiences and says they're not imagined. The explanation, he says, lies in the brain itself.
"These are real experiences. And they're experiences that happen at a time of medical crisis and danger," Nelson said.
Humans have a lot of reflexes that help keep us alive, part of the "fight or flight" response that arises when we're confronted with danger.
Nelson thinks that near-death experiences are part of the dream mechanism and that the person having the experience is in a REM, or "rapid eye movement," state.
"Part of our 'fight or flight' reflexes to keep us alive includes the switch into the REM state of consciousness," he said.
During REM sleep, there is increased brain activity and visual stimulation. Intense dreaming occurs as a result.
And the bright light so many people claim to see?
"The activation of the visual system caused by REM is causing the bright lights," Nelson said.
And the tunnel people speak of, he says, is lack of blood flow to the eye. "The eye, the retina of the eye, is one of the most exquisitely sensitive tissues to a loss of blood flow. So when blood flow does not reach the eye, vision fails, and darkness ensues from the periphery to the center. And that is very likely causing the tunnel effect."
Nelson is doing studies now to prove that the same effect results from fainting.
"The most common cause of near-death experience in my research group is fainting. Upwards of 100 million Americans have fainted. That means probably tens of millions of Americans have had these unusual experiences."
But Geraghty says this was no dream. "I know I went someplace else. I know I went someplace else other than here."
Dr. Bill O'Callahan, the emergency room doctor who shocked her back to life, agrees. "Cynics out there would say and agnostics would say that's phenomenon that comes from a dying brain. I think that's hogwash. I firmly believe that people experience these events." Cheating Death: Back from the dead
Bob Schriever, co-founder of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association, was refereeing a high school football game seven years ago when he went into cardiac arrest, died and was revived.
He, too, questions the dream explanation. "Why are so many people dreaming the same thing? How can so many people, and there's hundreds of thousands of people who have experienced this, how can we all be dreaming the same thing and describe the exact same thing?"
Schriever says these experiences are so profound that only someone who has gone through them can truly understand.
Seven years later, he is still consumed with his own near-death experience.
"I think about that every morning when I wake up, first thing, during the day, I don't know how many times and every night before I fall asleep. I think about that. People do not understand or appreciate what we go through." Scientist uses poison gas to suspend life
For Geraghty, it's a daily struggle to put the pieces back together again.
"I've been someplace that not everybody can go, and there's not a lot of people you can sit down and have that conversation with," Geraghty said. "My own daughter tells me, 'It's freaky, Mom.' I've literally lost friends over this the minute they hear it." Tweet your own experience and you could win a copy of "Cheating Death"
Geraghty says she became depressed once she left the hospital because her perspective on her entire life changed. She still gets depressed, she says, and is on medication.
"I actually went to my doctor and said to her, 'I think I'm losing my mind. This can't be really happening,' you know, and she said it's OK, it's very hard to understand when you've been through an experience like that."
Geraghty has joined the cardiac arrest group, hoping that connecting with others who understand what she's been through will allow her to come to terms with what happened to her that cool spring day six months ago. And allow her to heal and move on.

Dr. Kevin Nelson tries to explain this phenomena away saying it is the brain reacting to near death itself. My question is why has so many thousands of people have experienced the same thing? My Mother had these experiences in 1969. It tells me simply that there is another dimension that we have. Some are lucky to get a peek and then live to tell about it.    If you have a near death experience and you want to share it please send it to my email.     theblogmeister

We are dying

 From the miracle of birth we start the process of dying. Millions of sperm start the journey to become life. Only a few make it to the fertile egg and the first one to punch through begins the gift of life. The embryo grows and in 9 months the child breaths his first breath of life and a new journey begins. There is no way of knowing how long this journey will last. The one thing we all have in common is that we are all on the same path towards death. The beauty of it all is the fact that not one life will be the same. We will be subjected to different influences and different choices will be made. Some of those choices will shorten our journey while others will make life easier. To quote a well known musician, "There are choices since the day that I was born and there were voices that told me right from wrong and if I'd listened I would not be here today. Living and dying by the choices I made." We do not think about death as we grow. We think that death will not find us until our time on earth has been lived to the fullest. We are not guaranteed life tomorrow, next week or next month. Death's meaning has eluded the greatest minds of generations. Why do innocent children get caught in gunfire of warring gangs? Why do some of the most evil of mankind live long lives? These questions cannot be answered. In my case, the death of a very dear friend by his own hand has troubled me more than my cousin's death of cancer. Both of these deaths have effected me deeply. The death I caused the colonel in 1979 has had a profound affect on my life. I have been tormented by his death and this was his plan. Why has he dominated my sub-conscious for so long? The recent deaths of my family and friends only reinforce the pain that I have been struggling with for over thirty years. Last night I was visited by the colonel, again. His demonic presence fills me with hate. It affects my waking life to the point that I sometimes consider joining him just so I can kick his ass. I know that is not feasible, though. I just want to rid him from my mind and I am trapped in the past and cannot seem to break free. I will not give up.   theblogmeister

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Dead Speaks

It was a rough day for me, yesterday, having to deal with another death in the family. As I lay my head down for sleep my mind would not let it be. The pictures in my mind of my cousin dying from cancer brought back the demon that has been haunting me for over 30 years. After tossing and turning for what seemed like an hour, I decided to get out of bed. It was after midnight and the only sound I heard was the whistle of the wind blowing through the trees. I walked out onto my back porch for solitude and try to make sense of why such a vibrant young lady and mother of three children had to go through such a horrible and painful death. My mind was not on the colonel, yet, he made himself known. It seems that he does not want anyone to take his place. His name is death and he does not want me to forget him. As I am sitting and trying to remove him from my conscious thought he only got stronger. Snapshots of him kept flashing in my mind. He is jealous and does not want anyone to replace him. The harder I try to forget the more I am reminded. I hear his voice from the other room. I must have dozed off but I know it is him trying to control my sub-conscious. He is evil, intimidating, relentless, and overpowering. I cannot stop thinking of him. This is exactly what he wants. He is angry that I have kept him at bay for these last few weeks. He wants me to know that he has the power over me. I hear him calling my name. It is as if he is back in room 225 calling me for help in some type of patient care. I do not believe that he is aware that he is dead sometimes. Maybe his soul is stuck back in 1979 and he is in his own hell. He has been causing me to feel that hell is here. The cancer ate away his body but not his soul. His soul is still living and keeps trying to communicate with me. He calls my name, once again. He is death and life at the same time. He lives in my sub-conscious and will never give me peace. He calls but I do not answer.    theblogmeister

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Light

  In many, if not all, of the near death experiences that I have read one thing is common in most, if not all, the light. The experience that my Mother had back in 1969 was no different. She had seen and felt the light that made her feel that she was beckoned to go to the light. She told of the desire to go to the light and the knowledge that all who had passed before her was there waiting on her. It was easy to step through to a new dimension and she had to fight hard to go back to her body lying on the operating table. The one thing that she was sure of was that my Father could not raise 5 kids without her help. She had experienced sadness about not going to the light to be with those that were waiting for her. Her story was real. Here is another story of a near death experience.

William Brennan

  In 1976 I was in a motorcycle accident in which my left leg was snapped off at the knee by a tree. Still conscious and waiting for an ambulance, I was able to stop the bleeding for a short time before I had to let it continue because of the pain. This went on until help arrived. I had lost so much blood by the time I got to the hospital that I recall losing consciousness as I was carried out of the ambulance.
I could hear the medics' voices for just a short time, and then I was feeling weightless. No pain, no hot or cold, no body. My essence, my spirit, "I" was slowly drifting towards a faint and distant light. I could see planet earth, small, off in the distance to my right. There seemed to be an invisible wall between me and the life dimension I had just left. I knew with certainty that I could not return that way. Nor did I have any desire to go back.
  Questions arose in my mind quickly and were answered just as quick by myself, as if I had some new kind of knowledge. I seemed to know everything. I knew without a doubt that I would see my family and loved ones when they passed. Not years from then, but as soon as I got to where I was headed. Time as known on earth, such as a human's life span, was a mere grain of sand on a large beach. We all, humans, had no need to worry. It was as if earth were just a level we all had to pass through on our way to a peaceful and more beautiful plane of existence. It was serene, all loving, all knowing, like being born to a brand new world, not as an infant, but as a knowledgeable, understanding being.
  Then, without a signal, sign or thought, I found myself on a stretcher with a medical crew working on me. Pain, fear and awe all surrounded me at the same time. To this day, I have never felt anything even close to what I felt in that moment. No joy or drug on earth could even compare with the feeling of security and confidence I had then.
Sometimes I feel like I can't wait to go there again, but I know I have to wait until my existence here is finished. I do not fear death for I know partially what waits beyond. The only aspect of death I may fear is how it will come about, and even then, it will be just a tiny event in the scheme of my existence.

Are these stories real? I believe they are and there are more stories to be told. Tell us yours. theblogmeister