What I Should Have Said About Veterans with PTSD and TBI

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Not long ago I had the opportunity to represent the warrior-run non-profit One Mind for Research at a Hollywood Telethon to raise money for Veteran charities. My role in the production was a live, 90-second interview on stage with actor and host Alan Alda. We talked very briefly about my experience as a wounded warrior with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Mr. Alda asked me: what did I expect when I returned home from a combat tour with TBI and PTSI? Perhaps because I was a little intimidated by the Hollywood venue, the big stars, and the brief time allotted, I didn’t deliver the message I would have liked, so I’d like to share with you now what I should have said then.

Actor Alan Alda played the irreverent trauma surgeon Hawkeye Pierce in the long-running television comedy MASH.

Actor Alan Alda played the irreverent trauma surgeon Hawkeye Pierce in the long-running television comedy MASH.

Alan Alda played the iconic character Hawkeye Pierce in the long-running television series MASH. Alda’s character was an irreverent army doctor serving in a forward Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (or MASH) during the Korean War. The opening credits of every episode included footage of medical evacuation helicopters bringing in a load of wounded warriors from the front. Amidst the pranks and comedy, MASH did a good job of telling the story of what happens once those helicopters landed. I would like to tell you about what happens before those helicopters land.

Two “laws” govern that space. The first is the law of the “Golden Hour.” We believe that if we can get a seriously wounded comrade to the MASH alive and within one hour, then our buddy will make it. In the show, sometimes soldiers didn’t survive after arriving at the MASH and that is also true today, although due to better medical tools the survival rate is much higher today than during the Korean War. As warriors, we can’t control what happens in the MASH. But our responsibility is to get the wounded to the helicopter on time. When one of us is hit, every all can feel the timer begin its count down towards the end of the “Golden Hour.” They are the most unforgiving of minutes.

The title screen and opening credits of MASH featured a pair of H-13 medical evacuation helicopters transporting wounded soldiers from the battlefield to the surgical hospital. Note the wounded soldiers on the litters placed on sponsons above each landing skid.

The title screen and opening credits of MASH featured a pair of H-13 medical evacuation helicopters transporting wounded soldiers from the battlefield to the surgical hospital. Note the wounded soldiers on the litters placed on sponsons above each landing skid.

The second law is recorded in a line in the Warriors Creed: “I Will Never Leave a Fallen Comrade.” To some this may be just another phrase from the canon of military tradition, but among warriors it is a sacred covenant that we make with each other that forms the foundation of a unique and special honor-bond.

Units that have this bond win. Units that do not, don’t.

As a student of the profession of arms, I had read and heard hundreds of accounts of these laws in combat. Many of these tales came accessorized with citations for valor like bronze and silver stars, even Medals of Honor. Remarkably, a large number did not simply because heroism is a daily duty and often goes unrecognized beyond the range of the last rifle round fired.

I would like to share how I learned about the persistent reality of these laws for myself.

My education began as a young lieutenant leading one of the reconnaissance platoons of the Brigade Reconnaissance Troop in the First Brigade (Ready First!) of the 1st Armor Division during a training rotation at Combat Maneuver Training Center (now the Joint Multinational Readiness Center) near Hohenfels, Germany. The brigade had tasked my platoon to conduct a recon and surveillance mission deep into Opposing Force territory. The mission was only part of a training exercise in the good ole’ pre-war days when a faithful warrior could look forward to a painless simulated death that would bring the Valhallan pleasures of a MRE and a nap before administratively resurrecting to roll out again in few hours. Levity aside, I was concerned about the level of risk the mission would have had we been executing in real combat conditions. If any of my troopers were wounded, it would be nearly impossible to evacuate them to a MASH.

I shared my concerns with my troop commander, Captain Jerry Turner. CPT Turner admitted that he had shared the same concerns with his boss, the brigade commander, then-Colonel Michael Tucker. Jerry Turner and Michael Tucker were both men I had learned to trust and respect. They cared deeply about their soldiers. In our middle-of-the-night discussion across a humvee hood in the dark German woods, CPT Turned shared with me the promise COL Tucker had made to us: if we got into trouble, he would roll the entire brigade– some 150 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles and thousands of soldiers– to come and get us.

That mission was a great success and the platoon contributed to the Brigade crushing the opposing force in simulated combat …and I “died” towards the end of the fight with just enough time left to eat an MRE and take a nap.

When a small team of Army special operations soldiers was forced down in their helicopter during a night-time raid into al Qaeda- controlled portion of Anbar province in Iraq, Air Force F-16 pilot Major Troy Gilbert was on station to provide emergency close air support. As a large al Qaeda force was closing with the isolated Special Forces team,  Gilbert brought his F-16 to tree-top level to strafe the insurgent force with his aircraft's cannon- an extremely high-risk maneuver, but one that Gilbert felt he needed to make to save the US soldiers on the ground. In the darkness, he lost too much altitude during his strafing run and his plane crashed.

When a small team of Army special operations soldiers was forced down in their helicopter during a night-time raid into an al Qaeda- controlled portion of Anbar province in Iraq, Air Force F-16 pilot Major Troy Gilbert was on station to provide emergency close air support. As a large al Qaeda force was closing with the isolated Special Forces team, Gilbert brought his F-16 to tree-top level to strafe the insurgent force with his aircraft’s cannon- an extremely high-risk maneuver, but one that Gilbert felt he needed to make to save the US soldiers on the ground. In the darkness, he lost too much altitude during his strafing run and his plane crashed.

COL Tucker’s promise remained tucked away in the recesses of my memory until the end of November 2006. I was about to take command of a Stryker-equipped Cavalry Troop in 3rd Brigade (Arrowhead!), 2nd Infantry Division in Iraq. We were in the process of moving from Tal A’far to Baghdad. While we were on the march, an Air Force F-16 providing close support to an Army special forces unit securing a downed helicopter in a sparsely populated section of the nearby Anbar province crashed during a low-level night strafing attack. The pilot was unaccounted for and possibly still alive. Just as COL Tucker had promised, we rolled an entire brigade (the Stryker infantry battalion I was attached to, an Airborne infantry battalion and a heavy cavalry squadron) to find and rescue him. Thousands of soldiers to save one.

Unrested, the battalion paused only enough to unload baggage and take on fuel before heading out along roads so infested with IEDs that US forces had up to that time effectively abandoned the road network and relied almost solely on helicopter air assaults. We spent three days scouring the area. My Troop searched every structure and vehicle within a hundred-square kilometers. We even forced the dump trucks traveling from a nearby quarry to dump their loads to ensure no body could be concealed in them. In the end we were able to confirm that the pilot had died in the crash. His name was Major Troy Gilbert. He left behind a wife and five children. We didn’t know that at the time. All that mattered was that he was one of us and we were going to get him back, one way or the other. It was not the ending we had wanted, but we had fulfilled our covenant to each other that we would never leave a fallen comrade behind.

We paid a price to do so. During the mission one of our Strykers hit an IED. Specialist Billy Farris was killed and several others were seriously wounded. Inspired by his stepfather who had served in a Ranger Company in Vietnam, Billy had joined the Army immediately after graduating from high school in Phoenix, Arizona. His consistently superior performance had earned him a coveted position in the battalion scout platoon, and he had been recently honored as the Soldier of the Quarter. Billy also left behind a young son.

To a bureaucrat, who measures value with a financial ledger, the mission was a waste of resources. To a warrior, who understands both the true value and the true cost of the honor-bond, the mission was a necessary sacrifice.

Members of Bronco Troop, 1-14 Cavalry, search for Major Troy Gilbert in Anbar Province Iraq.

Members of Bronco Troop, 1-14 Cavalry, search for Major Troy Gilbert in Anbar Province Iraq, November 2006.

A few months later it was my turn to make and keep that promise. My Troop had just redeployed to the city of Baqubah, at that time the center and proclaimed capital of al Qaeda in Iraq. During a fiercely contested mission to search for weapons caches in a suburb of the city, al Qaeda ambushed one of my scout platoons and the platoon of combat engineers clearing the attack route through the city. At a narrow bend in the road, an IED built into the exterior wall of house exploded and disabled the lead engineer vehicle. As the platoon moved to recover the damaged vehicle, a large force of insurgents engaged them with RPGs, machine guns and AK-47s in the fiercest ambush we had experienced. Five of the combat engineers were wounded, some of them severely. The countdown toward the Golden Hour had begun.

The thundering explosions and rattle of automatic weapons fire brought silence to the Troop radio net as the routine reporting and chit chat between crews disappeared to clear the net for the inevitable contact report. The scout platoon leader was experienced, aggressive and cool-headed but his report was not good. The two platoons were surrounded and out-numbered. They had casualties, some seriously wounded. The outcome was in doubt.

“Hold on. We will come for you.”

My quick fragmentary order to the rest of the Troop was redundant before it was issued. Everyone had heard the report. Everyone knew what had to be done. Everyone was already moving.

As we reached the beleaguered platoons, my First Sergeant, who had already earned a Purple Heart earlier in the tour, moved his armored medical evacuation vehicle into the kill zone. In a scene worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, the scout platoon leader, Captain Aaron Tiffany, with his vehicle’s gunner, Sergeant Josiwo Uruo, and the platoons’ trusted Iraqi interpreter, Monroe, ran under heavy fire to the severely wounded soldiers and dragged them to the waiting evacuation vehicle.

The Medical Evacuation Vehicle, now escorted by a pair of Strykers, raced to the helicopter landing zone fifteen kilometers away. Medical evacuation helicopters had been called and were enroute. Inside the armored, eight-wheeled Stryker ambulance one of the wounded soldier’s heart stopped beating. The young medic in the vehicle, SPC Brian Mikalanis, beat the soldier’s heart for him, almost forcing him to live through the precious minutes to the door of the waiting helicopters. Before the Golden Hour ticked away they reached the medevac helicopters with five wounded soldiers still alive. A few minutes later the pair of helicopters landed at a real-life MASH where a real-life Hawkeye Pierce finished saving those soldiers’ lives.

Sergeant Josiwo Uruo willing exposed himself to heavy enemy fire that had already wounded five soldiers to rescue our wounded comrades. He was later killed while again exposing himself to enemy fire in order provide covering fire for members of his team.

Sergeant Josiwo Uruo willing exposed himself to heavy enemy fire that had already wounded five soldiers to rescue his wounded comrades.

Bronco Troopers had fulfilled their covenant. We had come for our fallen comrades. But again, not without a price. All five of the wounded combat engineers made it home alive, but Sergeant Josiwo Uruo, a courageous young man from Guam with an ubiquitous grin, did not.

So to answer your question, Mr. Alda, when I returned home from Iraq as a wounded warrior with TBI and PTSD, I expected to be treated with the same commitment and urgency by the medical providers at home in the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs that we expected from each other in any and all combat zones.

Unfortunately, my expectations and the expectations of thousands of other wounded soldiers and veterans like me have not been met.

They have not been met because the organizations responsible for caring for our wounded warriors not only do not share, but likely do not even comprehend, the honor-bond between warriors. Their creeds are written on their walls, not in their hearts.

This reality was brought to public attention in 2007 when journalists revealed the terrible living conditions and treatment being inflicted on Army wounded warriors by ambivalent Army Medical Corps bureaucrats– many of them superficial soldiers covered in warriors’ uniforms with hearts concealed beneath the camouflage fabric but bereft of any warrior honor-bond. Army leaders found the organizational ethos of the medical corps so antagonistic towards the warrior values espoused by the Army’s own creed that they made the unprecedented decision to bring in a combat arms officer – a warrior – to fix the problem. They brought in my old commander Mike Tucker, by then a major general, to take charge of and fix Walter Reed. I suspect Tucker knew as much about hospital administration as I do, which is very little. But he knew what he had taught me a few years earlier- that warriors do not leave their fallen comrades behind.

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The Battle of Dai Do, Republic of Viet Nam (May 1968)

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In his reflections on this battle along the north bank of the Cua Viet River when one Marine infantry battalion (2d Battalion, 4th Marines) went nose-to-nose with a North Vietnamese Army division, a Marine wrote today (May 3, 2013):

AN ENDURING RECOLLECTION WAS A SCENE AT THE MOST DISTANT POINT OF MARINE ADVANCE. AMONG THE NVA BODIES THERE LAY A SHORT LINE OF DEAD MARINES, LIKELY OF FOX COMPANY. ONE MARINE WAS SPRAWLED HEAD FIRST ACROSS THE FORWARD EDGE OF AN NVA GUNPIT. THE BAYONET OF HIS EMPTY RIFLE WAS BURIED IN THE GUNNER’S CHEST.

FORTY FIVE YEARS AGO THIS MORNING.

Captures the essence of what “close combat,” and the U.S. Marine Corps, is all about,

And raises the question facing every generation of Americans: “Where do we get such men?”

(As Hack would point out, not a Perfumed Prince was to be found on this killing field.)

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PTSD and Military Suicides

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Talking about the suicide  of a loved one is not easy.  There is always a sense of guilt that “I could have done more,” but this is generally not the case for military veterans suffering from PTSD or as SFTT prefers to call it:  PTS  (“Post Traumatic Stress”).  Let’s remove the “disorder” stigma for what is now the signature wound of  many warriors who have served our country so valiantly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

SFTT will continue to provide a synopsis of the latest news developments on PTS.  Some of these stories are heart-wrenching, but we do need to get these stories out in the open to raise the level of public awareness of this terrible social cancer.  This is not a military problem or the VA’s problem – PTS is our problem and we have an  obligation to help provide our Vets with a glimmer of hope that they can reclaim their lives.  Add your voice to others  at SFTT to bring about the change we need to help deal with PTS as adults.   Donations are accepted to help SFTT’s medical advisory board investigate new treatment methodologies.

PTSD and Suicide

This past weekend I lost a friend to suicide. She was a combat medic with the Army. She was “treated” by the Army for PTSD. Their treatment consisted of restricting her to base, having her check in daily with her supervisor, and meds. Then as

Charts: Suicide, PTSD and the Psychological Toll on America’s Vets

Charts: Suicide, PTSD and the Psychological Toll on America’s Vets Don’t miss Mac McClelland’s feature on the PTSD epidemic among returning vets, and how it’s spreading to their families. Additional reporting by Mac

PTSD Survivor: Suicide

It’s been a while…. It’s also been very rough. My son refusing to speak to me has me in a deep depression. He’s 600 miles away. A week ago, I was up by myself online and happened to look over and see my

Suicidal ideation

Ideation is a medical term for thoughts about or an unusual preoccupation with suicide . … Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) …

Let’s mobilize our resources to help these brave young men and women reclaim their lives.  You can help.

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Remembering our Vietnam Veterans and those who made the ultimate sacrifice

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I recently received the following letter from American Legion Post #184 which is quoted below in its entirety.   I think it is fair to say that rarely a day goes by when those in SFTT to not think about Vietnam and the valiant warriors who sacrificed so much.   We applaud your inspired effort to honor these heroes and hope that we as a society have the same resolute passion to honor those who serve in uniform today.    Our respect for the men and women in uniform of all wars is manifest by SFTT’s relentless pursuit to provide our troops with the best combat equipment and protective gear possible and our latest “You are not Alone” campaign to help draw attention to the chronic need of those suffering from PTSD.

QUOTE

To:  The Editor

From:  American Legion Post #184

Commander Harry J. Tweed

Subject:  1/2 Sized Permanent Vietnam Wall

Location: Wildwood, N.J.

Good Day,

I am writing to you mainly to plead with you for some help to  benefit a once mistreated and now still mostly forgotten group of United States Soldiers and Sailors, these men and women are known as Vietnam Veterans! You can call what happened in Vietnam a war, a conflict, a huge mistake, or whatever, but thousands of our men and women were sent there, and 58,267 came back breathless!

Wildwood Vietnam MemorialHere in Wildwood, N.J, a beautiful summer resort all the way at the south tip of New Jersey, the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #955 and the American Legion Post #184 have built a stunning 1/2 sized permanent Vietnam Wall with all 58,267 names carved in black slate in the same order as the main wall in Washington D.C. It sits one block from the World Famous Wildwood Boardwalk and about 300 yards from the Atlantic Ocean. Besides Washington there is only one other permanent wall that we know of and that is another 1/2 version somewhere in Florida.

All we are asking from you is to please pick at least one, more would be great, of the pictures I am sending you and put it in your magazine with a brief caption saying what and where it is so our Vietnam Veterans here in the United States have yet another choice to visit their friends they had to leave and maybe never had a chance to say goodbye to. Wildwood is much easier for some people to get to than Washington is, and not to talk badly about Washington but you don’t want to make a wrong turn on some of their streets right now with the crime rate they have.

Wildwood Vietnam Memorial

I have included a that, there is a donation box but no one is there to jingle a cup.

I will leave contact info for myself and Vince DePrinzio who is the Wall Coordinator. Please please please consider doing this for our Veterans! Thank you!

I mentioned it in the Word Document but I wanted to repeat that dozens of out of work Union Carpenters, Roofers, Concrete Workers, and other trades showed up at 7 AM every morning and worked until dark and wouldn’t take anything from us but lunch! It brought tears to a lot of our eyes to see how proud they were to be working on the Wall!

For God and Country,

Harry J. Tweed

Commander – Post #184

Wildwood Vietnam Memorial Website

Address:  4500 Block Ocean Avenue, Wildwood, NJ

UNQUOTE

Thank you Commander Tweed for bringing this to the attention of SFTT and we salute you and the volunteers who honor our fallen heroes.

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Iraq’s Triangle of Death: A Mother’s Story

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SFTT received the following note from Sue Diaz, journalist, Blue Star mom and a leader of writing workshops for veterans. SFTT is proud to share a Mother’s story which she documents in Minefield’s of the Heart.

“I’d like to share with you a video story of the beginning of my son’s journey home after two long deployments in Iraq’s Triangle of Death.   Here’s the YouTube link:

It’s a true story that also offers hope. And I think it’s one that many military families can relate to. If you think so too, please feel free to post or share it with others in your online community.

Sincerely,

Sue Diaz —  journalist, Blue Star mom, and leader of writing workshops for veterans

On behalf of all American, we would like to thank the men and women in uniform who continue to give so much for our country. We hear you Sue Diaz.

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Afghanistan: Just another face of the War

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Editor’s Note:  The following story is provided by the spouse of a brave servicemember serving in Afghanistan.  While SFTT focuses primarily on essential combat equipment and protective gear to safeguard our troops, it appears that our troops can’t even find the basic necessities at reasonable prices in Afghanistan.  We hope this is the exception, but we suspect not.

QUOTE

My husband is in the military and just recently deployed to Afghanistan, unfortunately his Battalion is stationed at Camp Holland which has austier living conditions and the shopping facilities have yet to be built. They do have local shops owned and operated by Afghan nationals but the prices are ridiculous, a mere lip palm is $4.00 and $9.00 for a no name brand shampoo. This unit has about 300 soldiers and I simply can not get enough packages out there on my own to help everyone, I am sending two to three care packages a week but I need help and since the american facilities will not be built for another 3 or 4 months I want to spread the word and get this unit help.

 

Can you imagine having do live without shampoo, soap, toothpaste, shaving cream, lotion, toilet paper, wipes, simple things that we take for granted each day. Our soldiers are there because it is their job to protect and serve, they have left behind families and loved ones to protect the very freedoms many people take for granted and then for them to have to live like this breaks my heart. I will gladly take up a collection and mail it or below is the address to my husband and he will disburse it and ensure every soldier gets some. I am working on getting a list of addresses for everyone but that is taking some time. My first step was to send out a request to all of my contacts and then I will reach out to organizations that are there for such things as well.

 

 

MSG Rodriguez, Hipolito

HHC 4-70 AR

Camp Holland, FOB Tarin Kowt

APO AE 09380

 

dehoyos.rodriguez@us.army.mil

hiprod1@gmail.com

UNQUOTE

Readers of SFTT who would like to submit their own stories, simply add your story to Share-a-Story.

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TSA and US Troops returning from Afghanistan

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Editor’s Note:   The following story was recently received by SFTT.  We have not been able to determine the veracity of this story, but regular contributors to SFTT believe that many details “ring true.”  SFTT has taken the liberty of changing some of the more obvious details of the story to protect the identity of the author.  

This story in no way reflects negatively on the TSA and the awesome responsibility it has in protecting our transportation security.  Nevertheless, the scene described below – if true – suggests that our  limited TSA resources might best be channeled in a more efficient direction.   We salute our brave troops returning home from the frontline and applaud their common sense and restraint  in dealing with the “stupid.”

SFTT welcomes stories from our military forces serving in harm’s way and their family and friends who wish to “Share a Story.”

QUOTE

As the Chalk Leader [army speak for ‘in charge’] for my flight home from Afghanistan, I witnessed the following:

When we were on our way back from Afghanistan, we flew out of Baghram Air Field. We went through customs at BAF, full body scanners (no groping), had all of our bags searched, the whole nine yards.

Our first stop was Shannon, Ireland to refuel. After that, we had to stop at Chicago, Illinois to drop off about 100 folks from the Illinois National Guard. That’s where the stupid started.

First, everyone was forced to get off the plane-even though the plane wasn’t refueling again. All 330 people got off that plane, rather than let the 100 people from the ILG get off. We were filed from the plane to a holding area. No vending machines, no means of escape. Only a male/female latrine.

It’s probably important to mention that we were ALL carrying weapons. Everyone was carrying an M4 Carbine (rifle) and some, like me, were also carrying an M9 pistol. Oh, and our gunners had M-240B machine guns. Of course, the weapons weren’t loaded. And we had been cleared of all ammo well before we even got to customs at Baghram, then AGAIN at customs.

The TSA personnel at the airport seriously considered making us unload all of the baggage from the SECURE cargo hold to have it reinspected. Keep in mind, this cargo had been unpacked, inspected piece by piece by U.S. Customs officials, resealed and had bomb-sniffing dogs give it a one-hour run through. After two hours of sitting in this holding area, the TSA decided not to reinspect our Cargo-just to inspect us again: Soldiers on the way home from war, who had already been inspected, reinspected and kept in a SECURE holding area for 2 hours. Ok, whatever. So we lined up to go through security AGAIN.

This is probably another good time to remind you all that all of us were carrying actual assault rifles, and some of us were also carrying pistols.

So we’re in line, going through one at a time. One of our Soldiers had his Gerber multi-tool. TSA confiscated it. Kind of ridiculous, but it gets better. A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers. The conversation went something like this:

TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.

Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.

TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.

Soldier: Why?

TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.

Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m allowed to take it on.

TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.

Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?

TSA Guy: [awkward silence]

Me: Dude, just give him your damn nail clippers so we can get the f**k out of here. I’ll buy you a new set.

Soldier: [hands nail clippers to TSA guy, makes it through security]

This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns-but nothing that could have been used as a weapon.

UNQUOTE

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1LT Brad Vick now deployed in Afghanistan

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As a member of SFTT and mother of a soldier deployed to Afghanistan, I am doubly aware of the need for safe equipment for our troops.

 I have attached a photograph of my son 1LT Brad Vick (Army) taken when General David Petraeus, Ambassador Eikenberry and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry visited Camp Nathan Smith recently.

1LT Brad Vick and General David Petraeus

Theresa Henkelmann

Member of B.E.S.T (Best Equipment to Support our Troops)

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Open Letter to Senator Scott Brown on M-ATV defects

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July 30, 2010

Honorable Senator Scott P. Brown

317 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C.     20510

Honorable Senator Scott P. Brown:

 I am writing to you today as a concerned and worried Father and Veteran, on the issue of the M-ATV vehicle doors. These concerns are not only mine, but of many other families in the Corps, as well as the other branches in our military.  We are reaching out to you and your colleagues’ for HELP, on these issues listed in the letters (see attachments).

The Oshkosh Company was awarded a Billion dollar plus contract to build the M-ATV for the Military branches. Regretfully there are several flawed components; the most serious of them is the sticking of the doors, making them (Troops) unable to exit the vehicle. After reading these articles, I was outraged along with other Military families. I sent off a letter to Brigadier General Brogan at System Command in Quantico. I received a response back from the General based on information from the Oshkosh Company. Their conclusion is, improper torque and no loctite on the bolts. PLEASE, do they take us for fools (Oshkosh)! There is more to this than just improper torque and no loctite. This is not the response we were looking for. I’m quite sure that our men and women of the Motor-T that work on these vehicles have tried everything in the book and still had problems with the doors. Oshkosh also indicates that it would take a major re-design to change over to another design. The Humvees HAD the same exact problem, the solution was the change over from the two strap hinge to the new design piano hinge. This worked, and it can work again. This is in use today and works on the Humvees, and my son (USMC) can attest to that, it worked fine in Afghanistan. We cannot allow Oshkosh to take a band aid approach when it comes to our Troops; no matter what the cost is to retool the assembly line and to permanently fix this issue. Corporate greed and the bottom line must not be allowed in this equation at all!! This equipment is to protect them not to entrap them. I realize that nothing moves fast in Washington, and this must not take a back burner approach or lip service from Oshkosh telling us all is working fine. I would bet my pay check that this problem will not be going away any time soon. This will happen again and at what cost will befall our Troops in the Theater of Operation. I ask you to take a stand and say, not on my watch, you have the power to make things happen, and with me all I can do is bring it to your attention and other’s in Washington. All too often our Military leader’s hands are tied.

These are our troops and family members out there on the front lines, protecting us. They are not just names on a set of dog tags, these are real people, and they deserve the very best that we can build. This is America; let us put our best foot forward!

I look forward to hearing from you, and thank for your time.

Sincerely,

Michael J. F. Bucca

Hanover, Massachusetts

SFTT Editor Note:  This is an open letter to the Honorable Senator Scott Brown from one of his constituents, Michael Bucca.  The re-publication of this letter on SFTT does not in any way constitute an endorsement of Mr. Bucca’s views regarding the safety of the M-ATV.  Nevertheless, we believe that issues or concerns that may impact on the the safety of our troops be carefully vetted to insure that our brave heroes have the best available protective gear and combat equipment available.  If others have information concerning safety and reliability issues of the M-ATV, please email the SFTT Editor.

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