From the VA: Afghanistan: Let’s Talk About It

Veterans from all eras are reacting to the events in Afghanistan, such as the U.S withdrawal and the takeover by the Taliban.

You are not alone.

Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service. It’s normal to feel this way. Talk with your friends and families, reach out to battle buddies, connect with a peer-to-peer network, or sign up for mental health services. Scroll down for a list common reactions and coping advice.
Resources available right now

Veterans Crisis Line – If you are having thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-8255, then PRESS 1 or visit http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/For emergency mental health care, you can also go directly to your local VA medical center 24/7 regardless of your discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care.

Vet Centers – Discuss how you feel with other Veterans in these community-based counseling centers. 70% of Vet Center staff are Veterans. Call 1-877-927-8387 or find one near you.

VA Mental Health Services Guide – This guide will help you sign up and access mental health services.

MakeTheConnection.net – information, resources, and Veteran to Veteran videos for challenging life events and experiences with mental health issues.

RallyPoint – Talk to other Veterans online. Discuss: What are your feelings as the Taliban reclaim Afghanistan after 20 years of US involvement?

Download VA’s self-help apps – Tools to help deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) –  Request a Peer Mentor

VA Women Veterans Call Center – Call or text 1-855-829-6636 (M-F 8AM – 10PM & SAT 8AM – 6:30PM ET)

VA Caregiver Support Line – Call 1-855-260-3274 (M-F 8AM – 10PM & SAT 8AM – 5PM ET)

Together We Served –Find your battle buddies through unit pages

George W. Bush Institute – Need help or want to talk? Check In or call:1-630-522-4904 or email: checkin@veteranwellnessalliance.org

Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes – Join the Community

American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network – Peer Support and Mentoring

Team Red, White & Blue – Hundreds of events weekly. Find a chapter in your area.

Student Veterans of America – Find a campus chapter to connect with.

Team Rubicon – Find a local support squad.
Common Reactions
In reaction to current events in Afghanistan, Veterans may:

Feel frustrated, sad, helpless, grief or distressed
Feel angry or betrayed
Experience an increase in mental health symptoms like symptoms of PTSD or depression
Sleep poorly, drink more or use more drugs 
Try to avoid all reminders or media or shy away from social situations
Have more military and homecoming memories

Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service.

Veterans may feel like they need to expect and/or prepare for the worst. For example, they may:

Become overly protective, vigilant, and guarded
Become preoccupied by danger
Feel a need to avoid being shocked by, or unprepared for, what may happen in the future

Feeling distress is a normal reaction to negative events, especially ones that feel personal. It can be helpful to let yourself feel those feelings rather than try to avoid them. Often, these feelings will naturally run their course. If they continue without easing up or if you feel overwhelmed by them, the suggestions below can be helpful.

Strategies for Managing Ongoing Distress

At this moment, it may seem like all is lost, like your service or your sacrifices were for nothing. Consider the ways that your service made a difference, the impact it had on others’ lives or on your own life. Remember that now is just one moment in time and that things will continue to change.

It can be helpful to focus on the present and to engage in the activities that are most meaningful and valuable to you. Is there something you can do today that is important to you?  This can be as an individual, a family member, a parent, or a community member. Something that is meaningful to you in regard to your work or your spirituality? Such activities won’t change the past or the things you can’t control, but they can help life feel meaningful and reduce distress, despite the things you cannot change.

It can also help to consider your thinking. Ask yourself if your thoughts are helpful to you right now. Are there ways you can change your thinking to be more accurate and less distressing? For example, are you using extreme thinking where you see the situation as all bad or all good?  If so, try and think in less extreme terms. For example, rather than thinking “my service in Afghanistan was useless” consider instead “I helped keep Afghanistan safe.”

Finally, consider more general coping strategies that you may want to try including:

Engage in Positive Activities. Try to engage in positive, healthy, or meaningful activities, even if they are small, simple actions. Doing things that are rewarding, meaningful, or enjoyable, even if you don’t feel like it, can make you feel better.

Stay Connected. Spend time with people who give you a sense of security, calm, or happiness, or those who best understand what you are going through.

Practice Good Self Care. Look for positive coping strategies that help you manage your emotions. Listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling, or reading inspirational text are some simple ways to help manage overwhelming or distressing emotions.

Stick to Your Routines. It can be helpful to stick to a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work, and do other day-to-day activities.

Limit Media Exposure. Limit how much news you take in if media coverage is increasing your distress.

Use a mobile app. Consider one of VA’s self-help apps (see https://www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile/) such as PTSD Coach which has tools that can help you deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.

PTSD Coach Online. A series of online video coaches will guide you through 17 tools to help you manage stress. PTSD Coach Online is used on a computer, rather than a mobile device, and therefore can offer tools that involve writing.

If you develop your own ways of adapting to ongoing events and situations, you may gain a stronger sense of being able to deal with challenges, a greater sense of meaning or purpose, and an ability to mentor and support others in similar situations.

Watch A Capitol Fourth Live Here with Friend of the Podcast Angelica Hale

A Star-Spangled Birthday Party — Live From the U.S. Capitol!

On July Fourth, America’s national Independence Day celebration honors our country’s birthday with an all-star salute. Broadcast live on PBS from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, this top-rated extravaganza features coverage from 20 cameras positioned around Washington, D.C., ensuring viewers are front and center for the greatest display of fireworks in the nation.

In the three decades since the humble beginning of A Capitol Fourth, a parade of superstars — including Frankie Valli, Patti LaBelle, John Williams, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Reba McEntire, Natasha Bedingfield, Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond, Dolly Parton, Steve Martin, Josh Groban, Gloria Estefan, Huey Lewis and the News, Little Richard, Tony Bennett, Faith Hill, Ray Charles, the Bee Gees, Kenny G, Aaron Neville, Kenny Rogers and the Muppets from Sesame Street — has offered the best in American entertainment and helped set the tone for a spectacular American birthday party.

Program Sponsors

A Capitol Fourth is made possible by grants from The Boeing Company, the National Park Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Department of the ArmyPBS and public television viewers nationwide. Air travel is provided by American Airlines.

A Capitol Fourth: Watch it Live At 8 pm Thursday

A special note before we share information from the A Capitol Fourth website.

Friend of the podcast, Angelica Hale is one of the performers at this year’s annual 4th of July celebration hosted on the lawn of the United States Capitol. We are so proud of Angelica.

There is a link at the bottom of this post where you can watch the entire program with a live link here at EdBoston.com

This July 4th, A Capitol Fourth continues its 39-year tradition of celebrating our nation’s independence on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol building. Two-time Emmy Award-nominated actor and producer John Stamos returns to host the country’s longest-running live national July 4th TV tradition.

The 39th annual edition of A Capitol Fourth will feature: Grammy Award-winning music legend Carole Kingwith the Broadway cast of the Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award-winning musical Beautiful starring Vanessa Carlton; multi-award winning electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling; acclaimed Tony-nominated singer-songwriter and actress Keala Settle (The Greatest Showman); multi-platinum recording artist and star of television, film and the Broadway stage Vanessa Williams; double ACM winner, CMA and Grammy nominee with more than 12 million in RIAA certified sales and early member of Pandora’s Billionaires Club Lee Brice; Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum-selling singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat with her new band Gone West; Rock and Roll Hall of Famers and R&B legends The O’Jays; five-time Grammy Award-winning gospel vocalist extraordinaire Yolanda Adams; 2019 American Idol winner Laine Hardy; singing sensation Angelica Hale (America’s Got Talent); Broadway star and two-time Tony Award nominee Laura Osnes; and this year’s winner of The Voice (Season 16), Maelyn Jarmon, performing the national anthem; with the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly.

The concert will also feature a special treat for the entire family, with Big Bird, Abby Cadabby, Rosita, Elmo, Grover, Bert & Ernie from Sesame Street on hand to celebrate America’s birthday. The Sesame StreetMuppets will perform a musical medley of patriotic favorites and iconic songs from the groundbreaking children’s television series, currently celebrating a landmark 50 years of learning and fun.

And, the concert will pay tribute to our men and women in uniform with a special performance by the MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band and John Stamos. MusiCorps is a conservatory-level music rehabilitation program, formed in response to the needs of service members injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2007, the program has become a pioneer in the field of adaptive music and has helped countless wounded warriors in their recovery. This inspiring moment will be dedicated to our troops serving around the world, their families, and all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, fighting for our freedom.

The 39th annual broadcast of A Capitol Fourth will air on PBS Thursday, July 4, 2019 from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. ET before a concert audience of hundreds of thousands, millions more at home, as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network. The program can also be heard live in stereo over NPR member stations nationwide.

Also participating in the event will be Patrick Lundy & The Ministers of Music, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the U.S. Army Ceremonial Band, Members of the Armed Forces carrying the State and Territorial Flags and the Armed Forces Color Guard provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.

The 2019 A Capitol Fourth will be live-streamed on PBS.org, YouTube and Facebook.

Trump’s D-Day Speech Gets Rave Reviews, Even From His Critics

President Trump gave an outstanding speech commemorating the 75 anniversary of D-day at the location where that invasion took place. Below, watch the President’s entire speech, Below that, read the positive remarks from two of the biggest critics of our President,  Jim Acosta and Joe Scarborough

Acosta:

“[…] I mean, that could not be more of a fact check true if we could have found one. It really was one of those moments that, I think, Donald Trump needed to rise to in order to, I think, walk away from the cemetery, walk away from this hallowed ground and have people back at home saying, ‘You know what, no matter what I think about the current president of the United States, he said the right thing at Normandy. He did the right thing at Normandy.’”

Scarborough:

“There was one especially beautiful moment and I loved the thought because – any World War II documentary you see, any Vietnam documentary you see, when the interviewer starts talking about them being heroes, they will tear up and they will say ‘the heroes were the ones that never came back.’ Well, President Trump said that that’s what these heroes were saying. The heroes were the ones buried here behind us. Yet, he went on to say — to talk about the remarkable life that was created by this generation.”

Huge News About Friend of the Podcast Michael Behenna

It’s been a long, long time coming but today, President Trump gave an Executive Grant of Clemency for friend of the podcast, Michael Behanna. I, along with numerous other members of the then called “Cyber Crew” worked hard to defend Michael from nearly the very beginning of this horrible ordeal to a true Military Hero.

A trip to DC in support of Micheal, walking the halls of the Congressional Office Building to speak with Congressmen and their staffs about the grave injustices that were placed on our friend, having Michael’s parents on the podcast more than once to keep us updated (once Michael himself got on the line to thank us for our support), and regular prayers are some of the things we’ve done on behalf of this amazing former Military Officer.  We once had former Congressman and retired LTC Allen West on the podcast just to talk about Michael.

This grant of clemency serves as a complete pardon for Michael. While he can never get back the years of pain and suffering he has endured because of this disgrace of a miscarriage of justice, I am so pleased that he can now have this part of his life behind him.

May God’s blessing always be with Michael, Vicki, Scott along with the rest of the family, friends, and fellow soldiers that were so affected by this ordeal.

Pastor Ed Boston

Statement from the Press Secretary Regarding Executive Clemency for Michael Behenna

Today, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) for former Army First Lieutenant Michael Behenna of Oklahoma.

In 2009, a military court sentenced Mr. Behenna to 25 years in prison for unpremeditated murder in a combat zone. After judgment, however, the U.S. Army’s highest appellate court noted concern about how the trial court had handled Mr. Behenna’s claim of self-defense. Additionally, the Army Clemency and Parole Board reduced his sentence to 15 years and paroled him as soon as he was eligible in 2014—just 5 years into his sentence. Upon his release, dozens of Patriot Guard motorcycle riders met Mr. Behenna to escort him back to his home in Oklahoma.

Mr. Behenna’s case has attracted broad support from the military, Oklahoma elected officials, and the public. Thirty-seven generals and admirals, along with a former Inspector General of the Department of Defense, signed a brief in support of Mr. Behenna’s self-defense claim. Numerous members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation, Oklahoma’s then-Governor Mary Fallin, and current Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter have also expressed support for Mr. Behenna. Further, while serving his sentence, Mr. Behenna was a model prisoner. In light of these facts, Mr. Behenna is entirely deserving of this Grant of Executive Clemency.

Another post about this topic can be found here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-pardons-the-former-soldier-who-was-convicted-of-murdering-an-iraqi-prisoner/2019/05/06/158765f8-705e-11e9-9f06-5fc2ee80027a_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e7a271341b53

Here is the Facebook page dedicated to this cause: https://www.facebook.com/Free-Michael-Behenna-286735434685704/

Please Do Not Disrespect the POW/MIA Flag

As a veteran of the United States Army, this infuriates me, but you shouldn’t have to be a military veteran to say that this is just unacceptable. Those that are replacing the POW/MIA flag with ANY OTHER FLAG are just plain wrong, even if it is their “right”.

Government officials and in this case, members of Congress work for We the People, and it’s our taxpayer dollars paying for the disrespect shown by replacing these flags.

Let’s put things into a little perspective on “rights”. If you work for Cummins, your employee would deny you the “right” to fly a Caterpillar flag outside of your office. I am a diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan and love their memorabilia. Would I be ok with a Missouri congressman replacing the POW/MIA flag with my beloved Cardinals flag? Not a chance!!!

This is in no way meant to be threatening because it’s not – but it’s just not a very good idea to get on the wrong side of our military veterans.

Read below and learn something. It is not included to make my point, just a historical reference.

PROTOCOL FOR THE POW/MIA FLAG OF THE NATIONAL LEAGUE OF FAMILIES

HOW TO DISPLAY THE POW/MIA FLAG OF THE NATIONAL LEAGUE OF FAMILIES

The POW/MIA flag features a silhouette of a POW before a guard tower and barbed wire in white on a black field. “POW/MIA” appears above the silhouette and the words “You Are Not Forgotten” appear below in white on the black field. This black and white flag stands as a stark reminder of Americans still prisoner, missing or otherwise unaccounted for in Southeast Asia and is now accepted nationally and internationally as the symbol of vigilance and remembrance for all POW and MIA’s.

For an illustrated guide:   Protocol for POW-MIA flag
BASIC GUIDELINES

1. DISPLAYING THE POW/MIA FLAG AND THE UNITED STATES FLAG WITH OTHER FLAGS ON THE SAME FLAGSTAFF

When flying the POW/MIA flag on the same flagstaff as the United States flag, the POW/MIA flag should fly immediately below the United States flag. If the United States flag and a state flag and/or other flag or pennant will be flown along with the POW/MIA flag on the same flagstaff, the order from top to bottom should be: the United States flag, the POW/MIA flag, then the state flag or other flags, unless otherwise stipulated by your state flag code.

2. DISPLAYING THE POW/MIA FLAG WITH THE UNITED STATES FLAG AND OTHER FLAGS ON TWO ADJACENT FLAGSTAFFS

When flags are flown from two adjacent flagstaffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. The POW/MIA flag should be flown on the flagstaff with and below the flag of the United States, which should be at the peak of the flagstaff. The state flag (or other flag) on an adjacent flagstaff may not be placed above the flag of the United States or to its right (the viewer’s left) if the flagstaffs are of equal height.

3. DISPLAYING THE POW/MIA FLAG WITH THE UNITED STATES FLAG AND OTHER FLAGS ON THREE ADJACENT FLAGSTAFFS OF UNEQUAL HEIGHT

When flags are flown from three adjacent flagstaffs of unequal height, the United States flag should be hoisted first and lowered last. The POW/MIA flag should be flown on the flagstaff to the right (the viewer’s left) of the United States flag. State and other flags should be flown from the third flagstaff, unless otherwise stipulated by your state flag code.

4. DISPLAYING THE POW/MIA FLAG WITH THE UNITED STATES FLAG AND OTHER FLAGS ON ADJACENT FLAGSTAFFS OF EQUAL HEIGHT

When flags are flown from adjacent flagstaffs of equal height, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last and no other flag should be flown to its right (the viewer’s left). The POW/MIA flag should be flown on the flagstaff to the immediate left (the viewer’s right) of the United States flag and state or other flags flown farther left, unless otherwise stipulated by your state flag code.

5. MARCHING WITH THE POW/MIA FLAG

When the POW/MIA flag is carried in procession by itself, it should be carried front and center ahead of a marching unit. When carried in procession abreast with the United States flag, the POW/MIA flag should be on the marching left of the United States flag (top illustration). When a line of flags follow the United States flag, the US flag is centered on the line. The POW/MIA flag should be on the marching right of the line of flags (bottom illustration), unless otherwise stipulated by your state flag code.

6. POW/MIA FLAG AND UNITED STATES FLAG IN CROSSED-STAFF DISPLAY

When displayed with the United States flag in crossed-staff format, the United States flag should be on the viewer’s left with its staff on top of the staff of the POW/MIA flag.

7. POW/MIA FLAG DISPLAYED ON A WALL OR BEHIND SPEAKER

When the POW/MIA flag is displayed on wall, such as behind a speaker’s platform, the flag must be displayed as shown.

8. POW/MIA FLAG DISPLAYED ON SPEAKER’S PLATFORM WITH THE UNITED STATES FLAG

When the POW/MIA flag is displayed with the United States flag on a speaker’s platform, the United States flag should be on the speaker’s right and the POW/MIA flag on the speaker’s left.

9. FLYING THE UNITED STATES AND POW/MIA FLAGS AT HALF-STAFF

When flying the United States and the POW/MIA flag at half-staff, they should first be elevated to peak position, held there momentarily, and then lowered to half-staff. At the day’s end, each should be again elevated to peak position before being lowered. If the flags are on different flagstaffs, the United States flag should be raised first and lowered last.

FEDERAL LAW ON FLYING THE POW/MIA FLAG

The Defense Authorization Act, Public Law 105-85, section 1082, signed by President Clinton on November 18, 1997, mandates that the U.S. Postal Service, the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Departments of State, Defense and Veterans Affairs, all national cemeteries in the Federal system, the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Memorial must fly the POW/MIA flag on the following designated days each year:

  • Armed Forces Day—the third Saturday in May
  • Memorial Day—the last Monday in May
  • Flag Day—June 14th
  • Independence Day—July 4th
  • National POW/MIA Recognition Day—the third Friday in September
  • Veteran’s Day—November 11th

If any of these days fall on a non-business day, postal facilities are required to display the POW/MIA flag on the last business day before the designated day, as directed by Postal Bulletin 21967 dated March 12, 1998.

LEAGUE POLICY ON POW/MIA FLAG DISPLAY

For some time, there had been debate over when the POW/MIA flag should be flown, whether daily or on the specific six days noted in federal law. While not addressing the question of posting the flag at the national/federal level, League members at the 32nd Annual Meeting in June 2001, voted overwhelmingly in favor of the following resolution: “Be it RESOLVED that the National League of POW/MIA Families strongly recommends that state and municipal entities fly the POW/MIA flag daily to demonstrate continuing commitment to the goal of the fullest possible accounting of all personnel not yet returned to American soil.”

 
— Illustrated guide:   Protocol for POW-MIA flag

–Complete instructions for displaying and respecting the United States flag can be found in–

the publication The Flag Code from The American Legion, National Americanism

Commission, Indianapolis, IN, USA

 

http://www.pow-miafamilies.org/protocol-for-the-powmia-flag-of-the-national-league-of-families.html