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Entries in Veterans (102)

Monday
Jun282010

NH DHHS Releases Plan To End Homelessness Among Veterans and Their Families

Concord, NH – The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Bureau of Homeless and Housing Services (BHHS), is releasing the State’s first comprehensive plan to eliminate homelessness among veterans and their families in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Homeless Veterans Plan is a 4-year strategic plan aimed at helping those who protect us. The plan was developed in partnership with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Harbor Homes Inc. and numerous other organizations throughout New Hampshire.

“Homelessness is often times a consequence of multiple social factors such as lack of family support, unemployment, inadequate job skills, substandard living conditions, health issues, addiction, and/or other mental health concerns,” said DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. “The guiding vision of this Plan was to create a NH service system where there is ‘no wrong door’ when it comes to veterans seeking services to prevent or move forward from being homeless.”

In 2009 the NH Homeless Management Information System Database identified 428 veterans who had received services through the state’s homeless services system, receiving services such as outreach and intervention, shelter, or transitional housing. Estimates on the total number of homeless veterans may be as high as 600 annually.

“The Plan provides a framework for addressing homelessness,” said BHHS Administrator Maureen Ryan, “which includes comprehensive goals, actions to be taken, expected outcomes/benefits, and estimated completion time. Ultimately our goal is to eliminate homelessness among veterans and their families in NH by 2014 by ensuring that all have access to affordable housing and support services that promotes independence and well being.”

To read the four year Strategic Plan to end homelessness Among Veterans and Their Families visit: http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/DHHS/OHHTS/LIBRARY/Program +Report-Plan/veterans.htm

Thursday
Jun242010

Congresswoman Shea-Porter - Military Veterans Worry About Exposure to Toxic Waste 

The following article recently appeared in USA Today.  It mentions Congresswoman Shea-Porter’s work to limit the use of open-air burn pits.

Military Veterans Worry About Exposure to Toxic Waste

Some argue burn pits on military bases overseas pose a risk to soldiers

USA Today

By Anna Mulrine

Anthony Roles recalls flying into Balad Air Base in the middle of the night to begin his deployment as an active-duty Air Force weather forecaster. His first morning on the ground in Iraq, "there was a haze and a smell—and you could see smoke coming up," Roles remembers. It was rising from a pit of waste where plumes—brown one morning, green the next—would climb two or three stories high as jet fuel kept some 240 tons of trash a day burning. When soldiers cleared their throats and blew their noses, out came what they called "the Balad crud."

Three or four times a week, Roles, then a 26-year-old tech sergeant, took his unit's garbage to the burn pit, driving past tens of thousands of smoldering plastic water bottles and Styrofoam cups. There was more eyebrow-raising refuse as well. "I saw some pretty disturbing stuff," Roles says, including "arms and feet and legs and hands from amputees." There were syringes, too, and toxic chemical waste. The prevailing air currents, he adds, acted "like Saran Wrap that didn't allow anything to rise above it."

Not long after he arrived, Roles came down with bronchitis and sinus problems. He'd never had such maladies before, but it wasn't "too bad" and he shrugged it off. A month after he returned from Iraq in March 2004, however, he began getting severe headaches. "I couldn't figure out what in the world was going on." Tests showed that Roles's blood platelet levels were low, which indicated his body might be destroying them—a symptom of leukemia. The Air Force flew Roles to the Mayo Clinic, where a physician specializing in blood diseases immediately asked if he had been to Iraq and had been exposed to toxic chemicals there. "He told me that's a good chance that's where I got it from," says Roles, who had not suspected that the burn pits might be playing a role in his poor health. He was diagnosed with thrombocythemia, a rare condition often associated with exposure to toxins. His treatment required him to take a chemotherapy pill daily, which carries with it risk of strokes and heart attacks. At age 30, Roles had a heart attack. Shortly afterward, the Air Force medically retired him, ending 12 years of service.

Air study. Burn pits like the one at Balad are a source of controversy for the U.S. military. Growing numbers of ­soldiers are reporting health conditions that they attribute to the smoke they inhaled during their deployments, particularly early in the war, when the military torched everything from toxic materials to human and ­medical waste in open-air fields. But the Pentagon and military health review boards have been slow to acknowledge that the burn pits have any long-term health effects on troops, vet­erans groups say. An Army study of the air quality released last summer concluded that while the levels of particulate matter that the pits generate are "extraordinarily high" by U.S. standards, no "statistically significant" associations between this fact and cardiovascular or respiratory health conditions were found. The Pentagon's acting director for force health protection and readiness, R. Craig Postlewaite, told lawmakers at an October hearing, "In the vast majority of cases, these samples indicate U.S. personnel are not experiencing any exposures that would put their long-term health at risk."

These findings were not greeted warmly by groups like the Disabled American Veterans, which represents some 400 troops who have reported leukemia, brain tumors, and respiratory problems—and have filed a classaction lawsuit against KBR, the defense contractor that administered the burn pits. Democratic Reps. Tim Bishop of New York and Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire then asked the Government Accountability Office to review the Army study's findings for "significant methodological problems."

And the GAO found them. The Army study, congressional critics point out, did not test for the presence of smaller particulate matter, which is more likely to cause health problems. In addition, the samples were collected during the rainy season in Iraq, when such matter is less prevalent. And the study tested in only one location, even though burn pits remain widespread at bases throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congress passed legislation in October prohibiting the burning of hazardous materials and medical waste in the pits, unless the secretary of defense grants a special exemption. The law mandates that the Pentagon create a plan for alternative waste disposal and test soldiers who may have been exposed. "We need to own up if we've made a mistake," says Shea-Porter. The measure also requires monitoring of burn pit health risks, including a study of the effects of smoldering plastics.

Combat waste. The Pentagon points out that there are considerable constraints on a military at war, particularly in the early stages of an invasion and at small outposts. "This is really the first major deployment that we've had in recent memory to a location that doesn't have some sort of infrastructure to take care of the waste," says Postlewaite. "The engineers really scratched their heads when all of this started—the only feasible and viable option to get rid of this when it started was to burn it. If you allow trash to stand, it creates its own health risks." There are also security risks that come with disposing of waste off-base. "You're in the middle of a serious conflict, and the environment really takes a back seat to making sure your soldiers are safe from bullets and bombs," says David Mosher, a senior policy analyst with the Rand Corp. who cowrote a 2008 report for the Army on wartime environmental considerations.

That said, the military could have done more to mitigate the environmental impact of wartime operations, Mosher adds. Although the Army has produced "lessons learned" reports after previous conflicts, commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan didn't make use of them, he says. "They invented as they went along."

Roles says that there was no reason why the burn pit at Balad, upwind of most of the base, could not have been placed downwind. "That would have made a lot more sense," he says. "There was a lot of room on the other side of the base." Instead, prevailing easterly winds "would push all of that smoke right over top of where everyone was living."

As a result of the Rand study, the Army launched the Green Warrior Initiative to investigate the role of environmental considerations in counterinsurgency operations. And on the heels of the new law, Postlewaite's office has re-evaluated its stance, allowing that it is "plausible that some people may be affected in a longer-term way than we had acknowledged," he says. "Breathing the smoke is not ideal, either from a quality of life standpoint or from a longer-term health standpoint." Postlewaite adds, "We certainly acknowledge that breathing smoke can be responsible for acute health effects—irritation of the eyes, sore throats, coughing. And some of those coughs we know tend to last a while." But "­whether any of these effects are chronic and long-lasting," he says, remains to be seen. "We've left the book open and continue to leave it open in terms of whether there are health impacts on our people."

Postlewaite is more inclined to emphasize the possible link between exposure to burn pits and pre-existing conditions. There is a "fairly high prevalence" of tobacco smoking by soldiers in theater. "Would that increase the risk?" he asks. That question, he says, raises "enough uncertainty" for the Pentagon to continue to investigate.

In the meantime, the military is replacing burn pits with incinerators, which are safer for the troops as well as for the Iraqi and Afghan civilians who live around the bases. There are four incinerators now at Balad and 23 throughout Iraq. In Afghanistan, there are 10, with 74 planned for installation, including some that will be transferred from Iraq.

Roles, who has never smoked, remains convinced that his exposure to the Balad burn pit brought on his condition. "I was perfectly healthy before," he says. "Now I have a hard time breathing all the time." With his reduced respiratory capacity, "It's like trying to put 800 pounds of water pressure down a water hose." In his current job at the Department of Veterans Affairs,, Roles says he is encountering growing numbers of war veterans with ailments like his. Even as he tries to provide them with help and information, he and his wife struggle with how to break the news of his deteriorating health to his three children, ages 3 to 12. "The thought of what's going to happen to me," Roles says, his voice trailing off. "We don't discuss it with the kids."

Thursday
May132010

Shea-Porter Supports Bill Clarifying Veterans' Health Benefits

WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, today voted for legislation that will clarify health care benefits for individuals who have disabilities related to their parents’ exposure to agent orange.  H.R. 5014 clarifies that coverage provided by the VA to these individuals qualifies as the “minimum essential coverage” under the new health care law.

 “This bill ensures that individuals who are suffering from disabilities related to their parents’ exposure to agent orange do not have to purchase additional coverage,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “Those who served in Vietnam and Korea and their families have made enormous sacrifices for our country, and this bill is the right thing to do.”

This legislation is supported by the American Legion, AMVETS, the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The U.S. Senate passed a similar bill (S. 3162) earlier this year. 

Wednesday
May122010

NH DHHS Announces 1st Ever Seacoast Veterans Conference 5/13

Event to be held Thursday, May 13th, at Pease Air National Guard Base

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in partnership with the New Hampshire National Guard, the Rochester VFW and Long Term Care Partners, LLC will host the first-ever Seacoast Veterans Conference on Thursday, May 13th, in Building 149, 320 Newmarket St., at the Pease Air National Guard Base in Portsmouth.

The Seacoast Veterans Conference is part of a new effort by DHHS and the National Guard to help educate the civilian community about military culture, as well as assist in bringing military and civilian organizations together to serve veterans, service members and their families. There are 275 people registered to attend.

WHO: 275 New Hampshire Veterans and Service Providers
WHAT: Seacoast Veterans Conference
WHEN: Thursday, May 13, 2010, from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
WHERE: Pease Air National Guard Base
Building 149, 320 Newmarket St.
Please stop at Bldg. 16 for escort through gate.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES & HIGHLIGHTS

9 AM Opening Ceremony – National Anthem and “Our Freedom Song” sung by Tenley Westbrook

9:45 AM Keynote Presentation from Gen. William Reddel, Adjutant General for the NH National Guard

10:45 AM Presentation from Nationally Recognized Dr. Mark Gilberton on Combat Survival Skills and Coming Home

1:30 Panel Presentation by 9 Veterans – WW II, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan (including female veterans, mothers of veterans and an Ex-POW Veteran)

3:25 PM Closing Ceremony – Flag Folding performed by Cub Scouts Pack 195



Wednesday
May122010

Guinta Announces His Veterans Leadership Team of Over 80 Members 

 

Manchester - Frank Guinta announced today the formation of his Veterans Leadership Team. The former Mayor and current congressional candidate is truly honored to have earned the support of such a dedicated group of leaders whom have honorably served and given up so much for our country. Guinta went on to comment, “These Veterans and family members have served our country with both honor and distinction. We owe them all a debt of gratitude for protecting the freedoms we enjoy every day.”

As announced last month, Guinta’s Vetran’s Leadership Team is lead by State Rep. Al Baldasaro, NH House Veterans Committee, State Rep. John Graham, Past Vice President of NH MOAA, Senator Sharon Carson, NH State Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, David Kenney, President of NH ROA, Robert Dastin, (ret) Brigadier General, NHANG, Fmr. Assistant Adjutant General, Susan Peterson, Blue Star Mothers, CSM (Ret.) Michael Rice, immediate former top NCO of NH, Gary Terhune, President of NH MOAA, Kay & Pat McCarthy – Liberty House Coordinator, Gary Gahan, USMC (ret) corporal, (Vietnam Era Veteran), Member of the US Marine “Riders”, Raymond Closson (ret) Lt Col. NH Army National Guard.

Full Veterans Leadership Team

Title

First Name

Last Name

City/Town

County

Branch of Service

Former State Representative

Russ

Albert

Rochester

Strafford

US Marine Corps.

Mr.

Michael

Andry

Newmarket

Rockingham

US Air Force

Mr.

Bill

Arnold

Manchester

Hillsborough

WWII Veteran, US Air Force

Mr.

Timothy

Auger

Manchester

Hillsborough

US Air Force

Mr.

Dan

Bacon

Center Conway

Carroll

US Army

State Representative; NH House Veteran Affairs Committee

Al

Baldasaro

Londonderry

Rockingham

US Marine Corps

Mr.

Bob

Barry

Manchester

Hillsborough

Korean War Veteran, US Navy

Former State Representative

Bill

Beaton

Manchester

Hillsborough

US Army

Mr.

Omer

Beaudoin

Manchester

Hillsborough

US Navy

Former Manchester Mayor

Emile

Beaulieu

Goffstown

Hillsborough

US Air Force

Mr.

Robert

Belzil

Manchester

Hillsborough

US Army

Ms.

Regina

Birdsell

Hampstead

Rockingham

US Coast Guard

State Representative

Frank

Bishop

Raymond

Rockingham

US Air Force

Mr.

Richard

Buechsenschuetz

Bedford

Hillsborough

US Navy

Mr.

Tom

Butcher

Freedom

Carroll

US Air Force

Retired Colonel in the United States Army

William

Call Jr.

Bedford

Hillsborough

US Army Cololel

New Hampshire State Senator; NH Senate Veteran Affairs Committee

Sharon

Carson

Londonderry

Rockingham

US Army Reserve

Mr.

Marvin

Corn

Exeter

Rockingham

US Navy

Mr.

Andy

Crews

Bedford

Hillsborough

US Navy

Mr.

Robert

Dastin

Manchester

Hillsborough

Ret. Brig. Gen. of the NH Army National Guard

Mr.

James

Day

East Kingston

Rockingham

US Navy

Mr.

Sharon

Day

East Kingston

Rockingham

US Navy

Mr.

Tom

Deblois

Manchester

Hillsborough

US Army

Mr.

Donald

Diamant

Milton

Strafford

US Army

Mr.

Henry

Dufresne

Manchester

Hillsborough

US Navy

Mr.

Mike

Egan

Manchester

Hillsborough

US Air Force

Mr.

Christopher

Elliott

New Durham

Strafford

US Army

State Representative

Frank

Emiro

Londonderry

Rockingham

US Army

Mr.

John

Fahey

Manchester

Hillsborough

Ret. Captain, US Army

State Representative

Joseph

Fleck

Wakefield

Carroll

US Air Force

Mr.

Jeffrey

Frost

Manchester

Hillsborough

USMC and US Navy Reserve

State Representative

Larry

Gagne

Manchester

Hillsborough

US Navy

Mr.

Gary

Gahan

Merrimack

Hillsborough

US Marine Corps

Mr.

Peter

Galamaga

Bedford

Hillsborough

US Navy

Mr.

Jim

Gallagher

Conway

Carroll

US Navy

Mr.

Mike

Garrity

Manchester

Hillsborough

US Marine Corps

Mr.

Robert

Gates

Rochester

Strafford

US Navy

State Representative and Military Officers Association of America Official

John

Graham

Bedford

Hillsborough

US Army

Mr.

Will

Gregory

Merrimack

Hillsborough

US Navy

Mr.

Frank

Hastings

North Conway

Carroll

US Navy

State Representative

Ken

Hawkins

Bedford

Hillsborough

US Marine Corps

State Representative

Bob

Introne

Londonderry

Rockingham

US Air Force

Mr.

Edmund

Keefe

Derry

Rockingham

US Army

Mr.

Joe

Lachance

Manchester

Hillsborough

Ret. Corporal, US Army

Mr.

Tom

Lamy

Dover

Strafford

US Marine Corps

Mr.

Don

Lockhart

Kensington

Rockingham

US Army

Former State Senator

George

Lovejoy

Barrington

Strafford

US Navy

Mr.

Warner

Lund

Bedford

Hillsborough

US Navy Reserve

Mr.

Roland

Maheu

Laconia

Belknap

US Army

Mr.

Donald

McGarity

Tamworth

Carroll

US Navy

Mr.

Bernie

Mckay

Rochester

Strafford

US Air Force

Mr.

Jorge

Mesa-Tejada

Hampstead

Rockingham

US Marine Corps

Small Business Owner

Wilfred "Mitch"

Michaud

Rochester

Strafford

US Navy

Mr.

Joe

Paradis

Londonderry

Rockingham

US Air Force

Mr.

Martin

Paradis

Somersworth

Strafford

US Army

Mr.

David

Pereira

Gilford

Belknap

US Army

Blue Star Mother

Susan

Peterson

Weare

Hillsborough

 

Mr.

Jim

Phelan

Auburn

Rockingham

US Marine Corps

Mr.

Frederick

Rice

Hampton

Rockingham

US Army

Mr.

Jared

Rumford

Newfields

Rockingham

US Air Force

Mr.

John

Sangenario

Hampton

Rockingham

US Army

Mr.

Robert

Scolamiero

Jackson

Carroll

US Army

Mr.

David

Scott

Dover

Strafford

US Army

Mr.

Thomas

Seiler

Nottingham

Rockingham

US Army

Mr.

Ray

Shakir

North Conway

Carroll

US Navy Reserve

Mr.

Donald

Sorenson

Laconia

Belknap

US Navy

Mr.

Bill

St. Laurent

Portsmouth

Rockingham

US Air Force

Mr.

Mark

Starin

Manchester

Hillsborough

US Navy

Military Officers Association of America Official

Gary

Terhune

Rye

Rockingham

Lt. Col. US Army

Mr.

Robert

Therrian

North Conway

Carroll

US Army Reserve

Mr.

Brad

Thorp

Goffstown

Hillsborough

US Air Force

State Representative

James

Twombly

Rochester

Strafford

US Air Force

Mr.

John

Vattes

Manchester

Hillsborough

US Marine Corps

Mr.

Wayne

Webber

Manchester

Hillsborough

US Army

Mr.

Gary

Wheaton

Seabrook

Rockingham

US Air Force

Mr.

Thomas

White

Center Conway

Carroll

US Air Force

President of the New Hampshire's Reserve Officers Association

David

Kenney

Fitzwilliam

Cheshire

US Navy

Liberty House Coordinator

Kay

McCarthy

Manchester

Hillsborough

 

Liberty House Coordinator

Pat

McCarthy

Manchester

Hillsborough

US Navy

Immediate and Former Top NCO of New Hampshire

Michael

Rice

Nashua

Hillsborough

NH Army Guard