Today is our 4,657th day in Afghanistan.
We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualty figures from our ongoing war, courtesy of Antiwar.com:
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 2,333
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,119
We find this morning's Cost of War passing through: $ 1, 547, 719, 900, 000 .00
So...suppose you're a vet, and you're just hanging around your local VA hospital waiting for another appointment when your heart decides to attack you. You're already in the hospital, so it should be a simple matter for somebody to scoop you up and run down the hall to the ER, right? Astonishingly, this is not so
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A veteran who collapsed in an Albuquerque veterans hospital cafeteria — 500 yards from an emergency room — before he died was a 71-year-old husband who had served in the Vietnam War, his family said Monday.
The family of Jim Napoleon Garcia provided his name but declined to comment further about the death that drew national attention as the Department of Veterans Affairs is scrutinized over the care of vets.
Hospital officials confirmed it took 15 to 20 minutes for the ambulance to be dispatched and take Garcia to the emergency room — a five-minute walk from the cafeteria.
No further information was available on the cause of Garcia's collapse, exactly when he died, or whether an automated external defibrillator was available nearby.
Kirtland Air Force Medical Group personnel performed CPR until the ambulance arrived, VA spokeswoman Sonja Brown said.
Staff members followed local policy in calling 911 when the man collapsed on June 30, she said. "Our policy is under expedited review," Brown said.
Hospital emergency experts said it's standard for hospitals to require staff to call 911, even with patients are near an emergency room.
Garcia's wife, Carol, said her husband had served in Vietnam from 1964 to 1966.
She said the couple moved to Albuquerque in 1994 from North Hollywood, California. "We're having a lot of people call us but we are not releasing any statements right now," she said.
I was once witness to such an event - a woman in my office took a heart attack upstairs from a medical center complete with doctors, nurses, and a crash cart...but they wouldn't come upstairs to help. The policy was changed after the uproar, but it took a death on the office floor for it to happen.
But if that doesn't make your blood boil a bit, let's shift gears slightly. There are many military charities, and most of them out there do good work. There are some, however, that are more interested in grandstanding and lining their CEO's pockets. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation
is one of the latter. Ostensibly started to end evangelism throughout the military, it seems more likely that it's a money-making venture for their CEO, to the tune of 47% of all donations raised going in his pocket
Over the last decade, Military Religious Freedom Foundation founder and president Mikey Weinstein has become one of the most persistent and vocal activists in the military community, ferociously arguing for the separation of church and state in the military.
His compensation for running MRFF is also exceptionally large compared with top salaries at most nonprofits, military-related and otherwise — especially those the size of MRFF, an Air Force Times examination of the organization’s tax filings shows. In 2012, Weinstein received total compensation worth $273,355 — about 47 percent of all money MRFF raised through contributions and grants that year, according to IRS filings accessed on the nonprofit transparency website GuideStar.
Weinstein founded MRFF out of his own pocket in 2005, around the same time other prominent military-related nonprofits such as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Wounded Warrior Project began. But as the size and bank accounts of all those charities grew, Weinstein, an attorney, quickly became one of the best-compensated nonprofit executives in the country — taking a percentage of his group’s receipts that is unheard of in the military community.
IAVA, for example, paid its founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff $145,000 in 2012, or a little more than 2 percent of the $6.1 million IAVA raised that year. Wounded Warrior Project CEO Steven Nardizzi received $311,538 in 2012, or 0.2 percent of the nearly $155 million that charity raised that year. Nardizzi was paid more than Weinstein in actual dollars, but Wounded Warrior Project’s revenues far exceed the $584,351 MRFF brought in during 2012.
Weinstein’s compensation is well more than double the typical compensation for nonprofit CEOs, according to the most recent study by the watchdog group Charity Navigator, released in October. Charity Navigator found the typical charity CEO nationwide received a median $125,942 in compensation in 2011. CEOs in the Southwest — Weinstein and MRFF are located in Albuquerque, New Mexico — received a median compensation of $119,393, the study said.
And when Charity Navigator broke out small charities — which it categorized as charities with total expenses of between $1 million and $3.5 million — it found the typical CEO received median compensation of $95,661. MRFF, which reported $582,136 in total expenses on its 2012 IRSForm 990, falls below what Charity Navigator considered a small nonprofit for purposes of that study.
“For a charity that size, I would definitely say the compensation is very high,” said Sandra Miniutti, vice president for marketing and chief financial officer of Charity Navigator.
But of course, fraud isn't limited to government and charities. Over time, I have written extensively about the Stolen Valor legislation that was chewing it's way through Congress, to be eventually signed by President Obama. But even this new law doesn't stop things like this from happening
WASHINGTON — Former Marine Charles Allen Chavous was facing prison for his role in a decades-old murder. His attorney portrayed him as a Vietnam War hero who deserved leniency, telling the court he was a POW who escaped captivity and was awarded numerous combat valor medals, including the prestigious Navy Cross.
When the judge handed down his sentence, Chavous, 63, walked away a free man.
But in a case of stolen valor, none of the claims turned out to be true.
The proceedings in Augusta, Ga., were first reported by The Augusta Chronicle. After Chronicle readers expressed skepticism about the alleged war record, Stars and Stripes tried to verify attorney Scott Connell’s unchallenged claims.
The Defense Department and other experts’ databases have no record of anyone named Charles Chavous being a prisoner of war. Only 684 Americans were held as POWs in Vietnam and returned alive. Of those 684, only 37 escaped captivity on their own. Chavous was not one of them, according to the DOD.
When contacted by Stars and Stripes, Connell provided a copy of the DD-214 military service record allegedly belonging to Chavous.
“The information [presented in court] was confirmed by a vast array of information I reviewed from the VA and other historical military documents. This includes his DD-214,” Connell said in an email. He declined further comment.
The validity of the documents was not questioned in court.
Stars and Stripes sent the DD-214 to Doug Sterner, a leading military records expert and the chief archivist for the Military Times Hall of Valor website. Sterner is a Vietnam veteran who has spearheaded efforts to protect the integrity of the military awards system, including the Stolen Valor Act, which would have made it a crime to falsely take credit for unearned medals. The Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional, saying it violated the right to free speech.
Sterner noted “very serious discrepancies” that suggested the DD-214 was phony, including:
Parts of Block 24 (Awards) and Block 25 (Education and Training) clearly are in a different font than the rest of the DD-214.
The word “Gallantry” is misspelled “Gallentry” in Block 25.
The “Navy Cross Medal” and the “Silver Star Medal” — as they appear in the document — are referred to simply as “Navy Cross” and “Silver Star,” without the word “Medal” appearing after them.
Block 30 (Remarks) states that Chavous served in Vietnam 30 Jan 1970-1 December 1970 and then again from 15 Jan 1971-6 July 1971. But the font listing the second tour is different from the text above it, which indicates it came from a different typewriter.
Block 30 (Remarks) states that Chavous was “(Missing in Action) November 21-24, 1970,” but the (month/day/year) date format is different from the date format used just above it, and it is not the proper (date/month/year) format used by the military. This suggests the “Missing in Action” part was added later by someone else.
In Block 5a & 6 (Rank), his rank is shown as “Sgt.” with a date of rank of Jan. 3, 1970, but the “g” in “Sgt” is in a different font than the “g” in “Augusta,” which indicates that “Sgt” was written with a different typewriter.
“That DD-214 is BOGUS AS HELL,” Sterner said in an email.
So it matters not - soldier, sailor, airman, civilian....exploitation and corruption of the military exists at all levels these days.