Tag Archives: army

Army Coaches Enlistees on Drug Testing

Hidden Camera Catches Dishonest Army Recruiters

‘Army pounds it into your head until it is instinct: Kill everybody’

Soldiers in Colorado slayings tell of Iraq horrors

Soldiers from an Army unit that had 10 infantrymen accused of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter after returning to civilian life described a breakdown in discipline during their Iraq deployment in which troops murdered civilians, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Some Fort Carson, Colo.-based soldiers have had trouble adjusting to life back in the United States, saying they refused to seek help, or were belittled or punished for seeking help. Others say they were ignored by their commanders, or coped through drug and alcohol abuse before they allegedly committed crimes, The Gazette of Colorado Springs said.

The Gazette based its report on months of interviews with soldiers and their families, medical and military records, court documents and photographs.

Several soldiers said unit discipline deteriorated while in Iraq.

“Toward the end, we were so mad and tired and frustrated,” said Daniel Freeman. “You came too close, we lit you up. You didn’t stop, we ran your car over with the Bradley,” an armored fighting vehicle.

With each roadside bombing, soldiers would fire in all directions “and just light the whole area up,” said Anthony Marquez, a friend of Freeman in the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment. “If anyone was around, that was their fault. We smoked ’em.”

Taxi drivers got shot for no reason, and others were dropped off bridges after interrogations, said Marcus Mifflin, who was eventually discharged with post traumatic stress syndrome.

“You didn’t get blamed unless someone could be absolutely sure you did something wrong,” he said Full Story

Veterans Commit Murder at Home After Return from Iraq

Will the Swine Flu Provoke a Global Quarantine?

Interesting that Mexico City has shut down for ten days, yet air travel between the United States and Mexico is still permitted. If the flu is human-to-human contact, wouldn’t it make logical sense to close the airports in Mexico?

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Swine Flu Fears Prompt Global Quarantine Plans

Mexico’s Calderon Declares Emergency Amid Swine Flu Outbreak

Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared an emergency in his country’s swine flu outbreak, giving him powers to order quarantines and suspend public events.

Authorities have canceled school at all levels in Mexico City and the state of Mexico until further notice, and the government has shut most public and government activities in the area. The emergency decree, published today in the state gazette, gives the president authority to take more action.

“The federal government under my charge will not hesitate a moment to take all, all the measures necessary to respond with efficiency and opportunity to this respiratory epidemic,” Calderon said today during a speech to inaugurate a hospital in the southern state of Oaxaca.

At least 20 deaths in Mexico from the disease are confirmed, Health Minister Jose Cordova said yesterday. The strain is a variant of H1N1 swine influenza that has also sickened at least eight people in California and Texas. As many as 68 deaths may be attributed to the virus in Mexico, and about 1,000 people in the Mexico City area are showing symptoms of the illness, Cordoba said.

Obama’s Visit

The first case was seen in Mexico on April 13. The outbreak coincided with the President Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico City on April 16. Obama was received at Mexico’s anthropology museum in Mexico City by Felipe Solis, a distinguished archeologist who died the following day from symptoms similar to flu, Reforma newspaper reported. The newspaper didn’t confirm if Solis had swine flu or not.

The Mexican government is distributing breathing masks to curtail the disease’s spread. There is no vaccine against the new strain of swine flu, health authorities said. Full Story

U.S. declares public health emergency as swine flu spreads

The United States government declared a public health emergency Sunday as the number of identified cases of swine flu in the nation rose to 20.

The declaration is part of a “standard operating procedure” that will make available additional government resources to combat the virus, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said at the White House.

Additional cases of swine flu are expected to be reported in the coming days, added Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No one has died in the U.S. from swine flu, officials said Sunday.

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said eight students at St. Francis Prepatory School in Queens have tested positive for swine flu. More than 100 students at the school were absent with flu-like symptoms last week, he said.

State public health officials in Ohio confirmed one case of swine flu on Sunday. There have been seven confirmed cases in California, two in Kansas, and two in Texas, Besser said.

The World Health Organization advised all countries to be on the lookout for “unusual” outbreaks of flu, after an emergency meeting Saturday as the seriousness of the outbreak became clear.

By Sunday, 81 deaths in Mexico had been deemed “likely linked” to swine flu. Viral testing has confirmed 20 cases, said Dr. Jose A. Cordova Villalobos, Mexico’s health secretary.

In Mexico City, the massive downtown Cathedral of Mexico City was open but Masses were not scheduled. Dozens of worshippers put on masks and went inside the church anyway to pray on their own.

The H1N1 strain of swine flu is usually associated with pigs. When the flu spreads person-to-person, instead of from animals to humans, it can continue to mutate, making it a tougher strain that is harder to treat or fight off. Full Story

Venture capital firm set to reap rewards on swine flu

The swine flu outbreak is likely to benefit one of the most prolific and successful venture capital firms in the United States: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Thomson Reuters Private Equity Week reported on Friday.

Shares of the two public companies in the firm’s portfolio of eight Pandemic and Bio Defense companies — BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (BCRX.O) and Novavax (NVAX.O) — jumped Friday on news that the swine flu killed a reported 60 people in Mexico and has infected people in the United States.

The World Health Organization said the virus appears to be susceptible to Roche’s (ROG.VX) flu drug Tamiflu, also known as oseltamivir, but not to older flu drugs such as amantadine.

Shares of Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG closed up 3.48 percent after falling sharply earlier in the week on a cancer drug disappointment, while shares of U.S. biotechnology company Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD.O), which gets royalties from Roche on Tamiflu sales, slipped 10 cents to $45.80 on Friday.

But BioCryst, a maker of drugs that block key enzymes in viral diseases, jumped more than 26 percent on Friday to $2.21 per share. Viral vaccine maker Novavax rose more than 75 percent to $1.42 per share. Full Story

Army: 3 vials of virus samples missing from Maryland facility

Missing vials of a potentially dangerous virus have prompted an Army investigation into the disappearance from a lab in Maryland.

The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command agents have been visiting Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, to investigate the disappearance of the vials. Christopher Grey, spokesman for the command, said this latest investigation has found “no evidence of criminal activity.”

The vials contained samples of Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis, a virus that sickens horses and can be spread to humans by mosquitoes. In 97 percent of cases, humans with the virus suffer flu-like symptoms, but it can be deadly in about 1 out of 100 cases, according to Caree Vander Linden, a spokeswoman for the Army’s Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. There is an effective vaccine for the disease and there hasn’t been an outbreak in the United States since 1971.

The vials had been at the research institute’s facility at Fort Detrick, home of the Army’s top biological research facility, for more than a decade. The three missing vials were among thousands of vials that were under the control of a senior scientist who retired in 2004. When another Fort Detrick scientist recently inventoried the retired scientist’s biological samples, he discovered that the three vials of the virus were missing. The original scientist’s records about his vials dated back to the days of paper-and-pen inventories. Full Story

Virus mix-up by lab could have resulted in pandemic

It’s emerged that virulent H5N1 bird flu was sent out by accident from an Austrian lab last year and given to ferrets in the Czech Republic

before anyone realised.

As well as the risk of it escaping into the wild, the H5N1 got mixed with a human strain, which might have spawned a hybrid that could unleash a pandemic.

Last December, the Austrian branch of US vaccine company Baxter sent a batch of ordinary human H3N2 flu, altered so it couldn’t replicate, to Avir Green Hills Biotechnology, also in Austria. In February, a lab in the Czech Republic working for Avir alerted Baxter that, unexpectedly, ferrets inoculated with the sample had died. It turned out the sample contained live H5N1, which Baxter uses to make vaccine. The two seem to have been mixed in error.

Markus Reinhard of Baxter says no one was infected because the H3N2 was handled at a high level of containment. But Ab Osterhaus of Erasmus University in the Netherlands says: “We need to go to great lengths to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen.”

Accidental release of a mixture of live H5N1 and H3N2 viruses could have resulted in dire consequences. While H5N1 doesn’t easily infect people, H3N2 viruses do. If someone exposed to a mixture of the two had been simultaneously infected with both strains, he or she could have served as an incubator for a hybrid virus able to transmit easily to and among people.

Baxter: Product contained live bird flu virus

The company that released contaminated flu virus material from a plant in Austria confirmed Friday that the experimental product contained live H5N1 avian flu viruses.

And an official of the World Health Organization’s European operation said the body is closely monitoring the investigation into the events that took place at Baxter International’s research facility in Orth-Donau, Austria.

“At this juncture we are confident in saying that public health and occupational risk is minimal at present,” medical officer Roberta Andraghetti said from Copenhagen, Denmark.

“But what remains unanswered are the circumstances surrounding the incident in the Baxter facility in Orth-Donau.”

The contaminated product, a mix of H3N2 seasonal flu viruses and unlabelled H5N1 viruses, was supplied to an Austrian research company. The Austrian firm, Avir Green Hills Biotechnology, then sent portions of it to sub-contractors in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Germany.

The contamination incident, which is being investigated by the four European countries, came to light when the subcontractor in the Czech Republic inoculated ferrets with the product and they died. Ferrets shouldn’t die from exposure to human H3N2 flu viruses.

Public health authorities concerned about what has been described as a “serious error” on Baxter’s part have assumed the death of the ferrets meant the H5N1 virus in the product was live. But the company, Baxter International Inc., has been parsimonious about the amount of information it has released about the event.

On Friday, the company’s director of global bioscience communications confirmed what scientists have suspected.

“It was live,” Christopher Bona said in an email.

The contaminated product, which Baxter calls “experimental virus material,” was made at the Orth-Donau research facility. Baxter makes its flu vaccine — including a human H5N1 vaccine for which a licence is expected shortly — at a facility in the Czech Republic. Full Story

Mexico flu: Your experiences

Readers in Mexico have been emailing the BBC describing the sense of fear gripping the country as a result of a flu virus outbreak, which has so far claimed more than 80 lives.

The World Health Organization says the virus has the potential to become a pandemic.

Read a selection of BBC readers’ comments below.

I’m a specialist doctor in respiratory diseases and intensive care at the Mexican National Institute of Health. There is a severe emergency over the swine flu here. More and more patients are being admitted to the intensive care unit. Despite the heroic efforts of all staff (doctors, nurses, specialists, etc) patients continue to inevitably die. The truth is that anti-viral treatments and vaccines are not expected to have any effect, even at high doses. It is a great fear among the staff. The infection risk is very high among the doctors and health staff.

There is a sense of chaos in the other hospitals and we do not know what to do. Staff are starting to leave and many are opting to retire or apply for holidays. The truth is that mortality is even higher than what is being reported by the authorities, at least in the hospital where I work it. It is killing three to four patients daily, and it has been going on for more than three weeks. It is a shame and there is great fear here. Increasingly younger patients aged 20 to 30 years are dying before our helpless eyes and there is great sadness among health professionals here. Antonio Chavez, Mexico City

I am a doctor and I work in the State of Mexico. I don’t work in the shock team; I am in the echocardiography team, but I do get some news from my colleagues in the hospital. There have been some cases of young people dying from respiratory infections, but this happened before the alert and they were not reported because the necessary tests weren’t done. We doctors knew this was happening a week before the alert was issued and were told to get vaccinated. I went to buy some anti-virals for my husband, who is also a doctor, because he had contact with a young patient who presented influenza symptoms and died. I don’t think pharmacies stock enough anti-virals.

I understand the government doesn’t want to generate panic, but my personal opinion is that they issued the alert too late. Still now, the population is not getting the information they need. We have been out in the street and some people are not wearing face masks and are not taking any preventive measures. Guadalupe, Mexico City

Read Reader Experiences

How’s This For “Supporting Our Troops”?

“I am under a lot of pressure to not diagnose PTSD”
A secret recording reveals the Army may be pushing its medical staff not to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder. The Army and Senate have ignored the implications.

“Sgt. X” is built like the Bradley Fighting Vehicle he rode in while in Iraq. He’s as bulky, brawny and seemingly impervious as a tank.

In an interview in the high-rise offices of his Denver attorneys, however, symptoms of the damaged brain inside that tough exterior begin to appear. Sgt. X’s eyes go suddenly blank, shifting to refocus oddly on a wall. He pauses mid-sentence, struggling for simple words. His hands occasionally tremble and spasm.

For more than a year he’s been seeking treatment at Fort Carson for a brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, the signature injuries of the Iraq war. Sgt. X is also suffering through the Army’s confusing disability payment system, handled by something called a medical evaluation board. The process of negotiating the system has been made harder by his war-damaged memory. Sgt. X’s wife has to go with him to doctor’s appointments so he’ll remember what the doctor tells him.

But what Sgt. X wants to tell a reporter about is one doctor’s appointment at Fort Carson that his wife did not witness. When she couldn’t accompany him to an appointment with psychologist Douglas McNinch last June, Sgt. X tucked a recording device into his pocket and set it on voice-activation so it would capture what the doctor said. Sgt. X had no idea that the little machine in his pocket was about to capture recorded evidence of something wounded soldiers and their advocates have long suspected — that the military does not want Iraq veterans to be diagnosed with PTSD, a condition that obligates the military to provide expensive, intensive long-term care, including the possibility of lifetime disability payments. And, as Salon will explore in a second article Thursday, after the Army became aware of the tape, the Senate Armed Services Committee declined to investigate its implications, despite prodding from a senator who is not on the committee. The Army then conducted its own internal investigation — and cleared itself of any wrongdoing.

Full Story

Listen to a segment of the recording of an Army psychologist at Fort Carson, Colo., saying that he was under pressure not to diagnose combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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See Related Stories in the Salon Series: Coming home: The Army’s fatal neglect

“The Death Dealers took my life!”
“Kill yourself. Save us the paperwork”
“You’re a pussy and a scared little kid”

PBS NOW – Fighting the Army Part 1

PBS NOW – Fighting the Army Part 2
PBS NOW – Fighting the Army Part 3

Homeless Veterans

Billing War Veterans for Service Related Injuries

vets

Army vet billed $3,000 for war wounds

Erik Roberts, an Army sergeant who was wounded in Iraq, underwent his 13th surgery recently to save his right leg from amputation. Imagine his shock when he got a bill for $3,000 for his treatment.

“I just thought it was bull—- that I’m getting billed for being wounded in Iraq doing my job. I always put the mission first, and now that I was wounded in Iraq, they’re sending me bills,” he said.

“I put my life on the line and I was wounded in combat, and I came back and they’re not going to take care of my medical bills?”

It’s a level of outrage shared by his mother, as well as the doctor who performed the surgery.

“It’s hard to understand why we’re not taking care of guys like Erik whose injuries are clearly related to their service. They deserve the best care of anybody,” said Dr. William Obremskey, an Air Force veteran and surgeon at Vanderbilt Orthopaedics in Nashville, Tennessee.

“For him to be responsible for $3,000, I think, is a little ridiculous or is uncalled for, particularly in this situation.” Full Story

Related Story:
The American Legion Strongly Opposed to President’s Plan to Charge Wounded Heroes for Treatment

Army Using Simulated Games to Lure New Soldiers

US Army recruitment turns to games

The US is turning to technology to step up its recruitment drive for new soldiers by introducing a $13 million virtual world of combat simulations where people can experience the adrenaline of a military mission.

Young Mother Returns to Army, With Children

US Soldier Reports for Duty With Her Children

NC military mom heads for Fort Benning with kids

A North Carolina woman who was recalled to the Army four years after being honorably discharged was driving nearly 400 miles and braving a Southeastern winter storm to report for duty Sunday, with her children by her side.

Lisa Pagan was en route to Fort Benning, despite the snow, and said in a phone interview she hoped to reach the Georgia post by early evening.

“I know I’m on my way doing what I need to do,” Pagan said. “But I’m a little nervous.”

Pagan said she wasn’t expected at Fort Benning at a specific time, other than to get there by the end of the day. She said road conditions weren’t too bad, but the weather had slowed her down.

Pagan is among thousands of former service members who have left active duty since the Sept. 11 attacks, only to be recalled to service. She filed several appeals, arguing that because her husband travels for business, no one else can take care of her kids. All were rejected, leaving Pagan to choose between deploying to Iraq and abandoning her family, or refusing her orders and potentially facing charges.

Master Sgt. Keith O’Donnell, an Army spokesman in St. Louis, said earlier that the commander at Fort Benning will decide how to handle the situation.
“The Army tries to look at the whole picture and they definitely don’t want to do anything that jeopardizes the family or jeopardizes the children,” O’Donnell said. “At the same time, these are individuals who made obligations and commitments to the country.”

Of the 25,000 individual ready reserve troops recalled since September 2001, more than 7,500 have been granted deferments or exemptions, O’Donnell said. About 1,000 have failed to report. O’Donnell most of those cases are still under investigation, while 360 soldiers have been separated from the Army either through “other than honorable” discharges or general discharges.

O’Donnell said Pagan isn’t likely to face charges, since none of the individual ready reserve soldiers who have failed to report faced a court-martial.
Pagan’s husband, Travis, is staying behind in their home in Davidson to continue his job.

“He’s very supportive. He feels the same way I do,” Pagan said. “He never thought I would be called back to begin with.”

She said she has reserved a motel room for a week and didn’t plan to stay in the barracks.

“I don’t plan on them leaving my side once I’m there,” she said of her kids. “Them being away from me is not an option.”