Thank you Rachel Maddow

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I would like to thank Rachel Maddow not only for honoring my late husband Colonel David Hackworth, on October 17, but also for honoring all fallen soldiers past and present as well as their families.

As I watched the opening segment of Tuesday’s The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, I was so deeply touched I had chills, then tears in my eyes. I didn’t know that Hack would be featured and I wasn’t prepared for Rachel’s heartfelt recounting of my beloved husband’s years of service to our country and his troops. He served in more wars than anyone his age should have and he did so brilliantly and proudly. And when he left the military, he never really left. His network of everyone from military brass to grunts was extensive, with new “recruits” calling him almost daily to find out how they could help him “stand for the truth” while supporting the troops – with more than lip service.

This number of veterans whose lives Hack touched still astounds me. At Stand for the Troops the foundation Hack and I founded, we receive emails, tweets, Facebook posts and letters from servicemen and women worldwide who remember Hack’s legacy of getting to the truth behind the “story,” whatever that narrative was and how that it was spun. From Rumsfeld to better armor for desert combatants, David made sure the media “got it right.”

While listening to Rachel, I was hearing a journalist with similar integrity and determination. A reporter who night after night, just as Hack did on Larry King post 9/11, has the same commitment to viewers: to ask difficult questions and demand answers. So it was last week when Rachel spoke about how we honor those who volunteer to die, sustain injuries or endure a lifetime of invisible battle wounds for all of us.

Every day at SFTT, we continue Hack’s desire to help living veterans suffering quietly from Traumatic Brain Injury, (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) find help. We’ve partnered with various treatment providers to deliver therapies that veterans say work far better with less side effects than those offered by the VA.

If you’d like to honor Hack’s legacy of fearlessly ferreting out the truth and helping veterans improve their quality of life, please contact us.

And thank you, Rachel, for remembering my husband’s heroism with such accuracy, tenderness and respect.

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SFTT targets PTSD: Interview with Eilhys England Hackworth

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I recently had the opportunity to sit down with SFTT Chairperson, Eilhys England Hackworth the wife, partner, co-author, and muse of Stand For the Troops (“SFTT”) founder, the late Colonel David H. Hackworth—America’s most valor-decorated soldier—from the late 1980s until his death. Since the passing of this great American hero in May 2005, Ms. England Hackworth has kept her deathbed promise to her husband to continue SFTT’s mission to protect America’s frontline troops.

The purpose of the meeting was to hear from SFTT’s Chairperson on why post traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) has become such an important “hot button” for SFTT.  What follows below is are key excerpts of the interview:

SFTT:   Eilhys, thank you for your time.  I am continually peppered by questions from readers as to why we changed the name of our organization from Soldiers For the Truth to Stand For the Troops.  Can you explain the reason?

Eilhys:  Happy to do so.  Our new name speaks more easily to what we do on behalf of concerned Americans—stand for the troops—and more specifically, stand for our frontline troops, who stand tall for us and our country.  Our mission to ensure that America’s frontline troops get the best available personal combat gear and protective equipment, including body armor and helmets, remains a priority. But recently we’ve been fielding a horrifying number of cries for help pointing to a lack of adequate care for veterans of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from symptoms of PTSD.

SFTT:  Yes.  PTSD has certainly become a serious problem for returning veterans.   How bad is it?

Eilhys:  Horrific!  Especially when every day in the United States, an average of 18 vets take their own lives – about one every 80 minutes!

 STTT:  That statistic is staggering. So exactly what is post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD?

 Eilhys: The causes or origins of PTSD vary significantly according to psychological, genetic, physical, and social factors but in shorthand:  PTSD changes the body’s response to stress. It affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters).   While the military is trying to cope with the growing problem – now reaching epidemic proportions –  proper treatment is too often beyond the capabilities of our stretched VA hospitals.  Statistics suggests that at least 1 in 5 of our serving men and women suffer from PTSD and this has terrible side-effects on their families and friends.

SFTT:  When did you recognize the seriousness of PTSD for our returning veterans?

 Eilhys:  You know we’re always very connected to what’s going with our warriors.  And early this year, the stories kept hitting the radar just as the suicide and homicide stats were becoming inescapable!  We announced a new PTSD Initiative headed up by Major General John Batiste, U.S. Army (Retired) and then he arranged our close collaboration with a new treatment program, CDS Warrior Salute, with CDS President/CEO Sankar Sewnauth and Major General Robert Mixon, U.S. Army (Retired). But the full tragedy of the effects of PTSD struck home when the heart-breaking story of 36-year old veteran Staff Sgt. Brad Eifert who tried to commit suicide by firing on police officers became a front page New York Times story a few months ago.  Fortunately, Sgt. Eifert didn’t kill himself or anyone else, but it could have been a tragedy.  But then, in spite of the efforts of a compassionate judge, tireless lawyer and inspired Vet Court, who agreed that untreated combat stress disorder or PTSD had  motivated his behavior, he still was about to be sentenced in the absence of any recourse.

 SFTT:  What did you do?

Eilhys:  Within a day or two, I was able to speak with the trial judge, the lawyer representing Sgt. Eifert, the Vet Court Rep and his probation officer and then together John Batiste and I got him admitted to Warriors Salute to serve his probation there – in treatment.  A goal achieved because of inspired teamwork on every level from Michigan, Connecticut, and Rochester, New York.  I’m thrilled to report that Sgt. Eifert will graduate from the program next month with a second chance at life. And all of us are now in the process of delivering several more candidates from the court system to Warrior Salute – and their rightful chance to regain their interrupted young lives.

 SFTT:  You must be so pleased to have rescued this young man?

Eilhys:  “Pleased” is not the right word.  It is our “obligation” to help our returning heroes.  For each person that we’ve been able to reach out to, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of others that need the specific hands-on sanctuary that we’ve been able to offer.

SFTT:  What’s the answer?

Eilhys:  Well, SFTT is assembling a panel of leading experts in this field to determine “best modalities” for treating PTSD and hopefully eventually replicate the Warrior Salute state of the art and science program that evolves at strategically located regional treatment centers. In fact, Dr. Henry Grayson is hosting a seminar for Warrior Salute clinicians on December 3rd in New York City to introduce his highly effective treatment. Hopefully, SFTT   will be sharing highlights on the SFTT website.  And we’ve started developing a national/local resource with several Senators and Congressional representatives to provide an interactive list of public and private treatment options in their states.

SFTT:  This sounds very exciting, but the task seems quite overwhelming.  How can people help?

Eilhys:  Well, it’s key that we both destigmatize PTSD and raise public awareness of the terrible problems faced by our returning warriors.  The social and economic consequences to our society are staggering should we let our brave heroes down.   While many people have given truly valuable time to get our PTSD initiative off the ground, funding is required at this point for a meaningful impact.  Hopefully enough concerned citizens will join the effort by contributing anyway they can. The more members and active volunteers the greater SFTT’s ability to affect change.

SFTT:  Thank you Eilhys.  I am sure SFTT readers will flock to help our brave warriors in their hour of need.

PTSD has alarming social consequences.  If you want to help, please consider becoming a member of SFTT.  Our brave warriors will need your support long after the smoke has cleared from the battlefield.

Richard W. May for SFTT

 

 

 

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Military News Highlights: November 11, 2010

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Colonel (R) David Hackworth – November 11, 1931 – May 5, 2005

Happy Birthday Hack!

History of Veterans Day

Today we honor of all Veterans who put their lives on hold to serve their country – the sacrifices made on behalf of our freedoms are immeasurable.

Thank you for your service!

Is Obama wobbling on Afghanistan withdrawal timeline?

A slight kerfuffle erupted yesterday on the wires when McClatchy Newspapers reported that the Administration was getting wobbly on the plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011.  SFTT has monitored this issue for the past few months because of the implications a policy reversal will have on morale and quality of life for deployed troops and their families – and will continue to provide merited updates as the review continues and the outcomes become known.

What Politico does nicely here is to provide the transcript of the senior administration officials briefing to reporters this past Tuesday (11/9/10).   The official briefed the re-statement of the administrations intent to abide by the Presidents order to begin transition and withdrawal of US forces in July 2011, the mechanics (i.e. metrics, frequency of previous reports and internal policy making reports) of the review, the input of the “outputs” of the pending Bonn Conference to the process, and the timing of the release of the review.  For those interested in these details the exchange is revealing.

What is irksome is the soft-shells that have been recently launched by senior military and civilian leaders describing how 2014 is the preferred “transition date”.  The problem is that these heavyweights probably carry more influence to the outcome than an “unnamed senior administration official”, and that indeed is the issue.

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Historical Convergences

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Hack has said that his favorite book was “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. It is one of my own as well. There was an other famous writer of that time named Lao Tzu. I am certain that Hack knew him as well.

Lao Tzu was the founder of Taoism. When he became old and infirm, he refused to write his “testiment”. So that others could not pervert his legacy, and use it to their benefit. Alas, before he left China to die, he relented, and wrote the 88 verses of the Tao Te Ching.

Since that time, a full-scale religion (the anti-thesis of his teachings) has come to be.

My fear, is that this same thing will happen to the simple words of Col. David Hachworth.   His main concern was that  ground troops should be both appreciated, and supplied.  That they should be recognised for what they were…… the deciding factor in ANY military contest..

I pray, that you in charge of his “legacy”, will not follow in the footsteps of the “followers” of Lao Tzu.  You have in your hands, the legacy, of one of, if not THE greatest example of American military manhood. Balls to the wall, all the way!  Please handle it with due care and attention.

See that is not corrupted. Nor made into something that Hack would drop his BDUs and shit on.

Brian W. Brannon

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Wreath Ceremony in Arlington Cemetery for Col. David Hackworth

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On May 22nd, Eilhys England Hackworth, the widow of Col. David Hackworth celebrated his legacy with a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Found below is a video of the wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown.

As we approach Memorial Day, we give thanks to the many who have sacrificed their lives to keep this country free.

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Colonel David Hackworth 5th Anniversary Celebration

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SFTT Chair Eilhys England Hackworth Announces 5th Anniversary Celebration

Colonel David “Hack” Hackworth, my dear late husband, died in my arms five years ago this month. As of May 1st, to celebrate Hack’s unique life and legacy, Soldiers For The Truth is launching a year-long 5th Anniversary Celebration  to honor his lifelong dedication to America’s frontline troops.

Our first event will be a public wreath ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery planned for May 22 to honor Hack’s legacy.  I will be joined by Soldiers For The Truth board members and distinguished guests as we first honor him at his gravesite and then present a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This event is open to the public and I hope you consider joining SFTT as we commemorate Hack’s life and his many contributions to America’s greatest treasure, its fighting men and women.

More immediately, in conjunction with introducing our newly-reconstructed website (www.SFTT.org) the Foundation is kicking off our tribute year with the appointment of Richard May, Director, Communications and LTC (R) Jaime Martinez, Director, Hackworth Legacy.

Richard (“Rick”) W. May, who served in Military Intelligence at the Pentagon from 1969 to 1971, joins us after an extensive career in international banking; he presently both runs several internet businesses and has joined his wife Sheila in Therese Saint Clair, a stationery store located in Greenwich, CT.  A self-taught computer-technology specialist, Rick has already leveraged his extensive business acumen and computer-tech skills to manage a host of communications across the digital spectrum including—fortunately for SFTT—ramrodding our site reconstruction as a volunteer. “It is an honor and a privilege to continue on with my ‘service’ to SFTT.  Supporting the brave young men and women who defend our freedoms,” Rick told me, “is an easily acquired addiction.”

LTC (R) Jaime Martinez is joining SFTT after recently retiring from 25 years of service in the Army as a career Infantryman.

While SFTT has captured the attention of the Beltway military procurement community and the US Congress and engaged with them in the urgent need for improving the equipment issued to our often-embattled frontline troops, we still have a long way to go to get our warriors the right stuff to make it home alive and in one piece.

So we’re also launching our first membership drive. First, because our wonderful pro bono lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis have re-written our by-laws to allow for members. At last you can officially support SFTT’s noble efforts either by joining up – or, of course, otherwise contributing to our critical cause. Only by standing together can we ensure that America’s sons and daughters, those brave heroes who daily risk their lives on forgotten and desolate battlefields, have a better shot at returning safely to their beloved country.

Other 5th Anniversary events already scheduled include our presenting former Senator and SFTT close advisor Bob Kerrey with our SUPPORT THE TROOPS WITH MORE THAN LIP SERVICE AWARD this October 15th and on Sunday November 14th we’ll be hosting our annual Veterans Day Rock & Roll Party (Vietnam era music in honor of the vets from that sad war—where we’ll also celebrate Hack’s November 11th birthday!) at the Second Congregation Church of Greenwich.

Hope to see you all everywhere.

Eilhys England Hackworth

SFTT Chair

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Colonel Hackworth Wreath Ceremony and Graveside Memorial

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Colonel David H. Hackworth (U.S. Army, Retired)

Graveside Memorial and Wreath Ceremony

Arlington National Cemetery

May 22, 2010

May 4th marked the fifth anniversary of the passing of Colonel David “Hack” Hackworth.  His legacy will be honored at a gravesite memorial, 2:00 p.m., May 22, 2010.  Following the gravesite memorial at 3:15 p.m., family and members of the Soldiers For The Truth Foundation  will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery to honor the fallen.

This event is open to the public and we cordially invite you to join us as we commemorate Hack’s life and legacy—his steadfast commitment to protecting America’s greatest treasure, its fighting men and women. Your support of the same issues Hack fought for over the years is a testimony to his legacy and vital to SFTT’s continuing his noble mission.

Since his passing, SFTT has continued to carry the torch and keep the public and our leaders focused on the critical need to provide the best-available equipment to our troops while also working to correct training and leadership shortfalls.  Your joining us helps strengthen our determination to keep all Hack stood for alive.

Sequence of Events

2:00               Gravesite Memorial (Section 37, Grave 417A)

2:45                Walk to Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

3:00               Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

3:15                Public Wreath Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Useful Resources

Arlington National Cemetery by Google Maps

Colonel David H. Hackworth Gravesite Information

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Picking up the Torch for Col. David Hackworth

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My valiant, wonderful husband, Colonel David (Hack) Hackworth, one of America’s greatest heroes and most valor-decorated soldiers, died in my arms two years ago this past May (Editor’s note:  This was written by Col. Hackworth’s wife three years ago on the second anniversary of his death).  During the last weeks we shared, he thought not a wit about himself; and his love for me burned so brightly I still feel surrounded by that awesome warmth.  But he worried too about the frontline troops he spent his life protecting and particularly about Soldiers For The Truth (“SFTT”), the foundation we started together.  So I promised Hack I’d pick up the torch and keep SFTT viable – and continue our commitment to get the kids out at the tip of the spear the best leadership, training and equipment.

I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  In spite of the major stories we broke – such as the lack of up-to-date body armor or none at all when the troops first went back into Iraq or the unarmored hummers or Abu Ghraib, which pointed so clearly to flaws in both training and leadership – most people we addressed when we tried to raise awareness and funds found it difficult to accept that our soldiers and Marines weren’t getting the right stuff with which to wage war.  Even though we eventually came to expect the disconnect, we always found it hard to compute — but that was because for many years we were often first to report outrages like the Tillman cover-up in our weekly column DEFENDING AMERICA, which Hack would also discuss every week on TV and radio.  To disbelieving ears, of course, but he kept getting booked because he had better pundit credentials than most and good TV-Q, probably because he was as quick and deadly with words as he’d been in battle.

Only recently have I noticed that we’re gaining more traction and I suspect it’s mainly because the Walter Reed debacle so deeply shocked and touched the nation.  Suddenly we were all confronting what Hack had warned us about on Larry King when we first went into Iraq:  in spite of all our vows to the contrary, we’ve allowed ourselves to be sucked into another Vietnam with far greater potential fall-out.  Sure, because of medical and technological advances, we won’t have a black granite wall listing 58,000 fallen warriors; but depending upon how much longer we’re stuck in Iraq, we’re likely to have far more than 58,000 wounded, many grievously.

Excellent organizations offer countless services to take care of the troops, from entertaining them in Iraq to helping them and their families when they come home.  The USO, Wounded Warrior, Fisher House and so on.  But no organization except SFTT is dedicated day in, day out to being there for our stalwart warriors as they stand tall for their country out in the shifting sands of the Valley of the Shadow of Death — to try to prevent them from being killed or wounded in the first place.

As we entered last spring the fifth year of this terrible war, SFTT will formally announce the new Basic Five campaign to get America’s frontline troops the best available of the five most essential items of personal combat gear so they have the best possible chance to complete their assigned missions and make it home alive and in one piece in a plane seat instead of a body bag or on a stretcher.  Doesn’t it seem criminal that the richest nation in the world, which spends more than the rest of the world combined on defense, can’t budget responsibly enough to provide its sons and daughters with a helmet that will prevent many more of the endemic, life-altering head injuries?  With the same better body armor the generals choose – and wear hidden under their uniforms?  With a rifle that’s not a jammer like Jessica Lynch’s M-16 and that’s at least as effective as the AK-47, the terrorists’ weapon-of-choice?  With a sidearm that’s reliable and deadly in tight situations?   And with boots capable of going the bloody distance?

No wonder Hack died worrying about the troops.  But if more Americans stay mindful of the dreadful consequences of war and help SFTT carry Hack’s torch, we can together “SUPPORT THE TROOPS WITH MORE THAN LIP SERVICE” and make sure more of our brave volunteers survive whatever lies ahead.

Eilhys England

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