Thursday, June 19, 2008

Creating Futures ~ A new program for Veterans

An important program launched by companies in the information technology (IT) industry to educate, train, certify and provide job placement assistance for returning veterans. Military who successfully complete the Creating Futures program will have the knowledge and skill level they need to start a rewarding career in IT.

Creating Futures is free for all participants. The cost is covered by organizational sponsors such as HP, Xerox and Ricoh.
The Creating Futures program is tailored to help individuals with various levels of skill. Individuals who have honed their computer skills in the military will be taught how to transfer those skills to civilian life, and those who are new to IT will be taught the basic skills they need to pursue a career in information technology.
Returning veterans interested in participating in the program should visit for information on how to participate

Utah Soldiers to be Awarded with Military Service Stars

Utah soldiers to be awarded with military service stars
June 19th, 2008 @ 8:34am

DRAPER, Utah (AP) -- Two Utah National Guard soldiers will be decorated for their bravery and service in Afghanistan at a ceremony in Draper Thursday.

First Lt. Tyler J. Jensen of the 19th Special Forces Group will get the Silver Star for protecting a wounded fellow soldier during a firefight on Jan. 27, 2007.

The Provo soldier is the first Utah guardsman to get the Silver Star in 20 years. The medal is awarded for acts of "gallantry in action."

Capt. Chad Pledger, of North Ogden, will get the Bronze Star for recovering the body of a solider killed during a firefight Nov. 26, 2006 near the Tarin Kowt village in the Uruzgan province.

The Bronze Star is awarded for "heroic or meritorious achievements or service

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

1-145th Returns from Iraq

About 130 members of the 1-145th return from Iraq
May 28th, 2008 @ 4:14pm
Jed Boal reporting

President Bush was not the only important arrival today at the Utah Air National Guard Base. Approximately 130 Utah National Guard soldiers touched down after a tour of duty in Iraq.

For the families of the soldiers of the First Battalion, 145th Field Artillery (1-145th), the most important planes touched down before the President arrived in Utah. They saw their loved ones for the first time in about a year. As you might expect, soldiers at the homecoming told us they were overwhelmed but proud of their service.

These soldiers are the second and third groups of four to return to Utah from the 1-145th. About 80 of their comrades got home Memorial Day and another 80 will get back to Utah late tomorrow night.

These soldiers come from Logan, Brigham City, Manti, Spanish Fork and Fillmore. It was the second deployment for some of them.

While in Iraq, they handled military-police duties at Camp Bucca, one of the largest Coalition detention facilities in Iraq. A member from the 1-145th said, "It was a long, hard job but we got it done, and I'm glad to be home with wonderful people."

A family member said, "It's so awesome. I can't even describe it. I'm so proud of all the service people."

The last 80 members of the unit get home tomorrow night at 11:30. Some families waiting on those soldiers are upset about their late arrival. A spokesman for the Utah National Guard says the soldiers' return depends upon the time they got back to the states for demobilization at Fort Bliss, Texas.

As for the late flight, that's a bid process that is out of the control of the Utah National Guard.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Family of Utah Soldier Killed Sending Humanitarian Goods to Iraq
April 8th, 2008 @ 4:32pm
Sam Penrod reporting

The family of a Utah solider killed in Iraq last summer is trying keep his memory alive. Instead of forgetting the people he was trying to protect, they collected humanitarian goods and sent them to Iraq.

Sgt. Barnes died on July 17, 2007 from small arms fire in Iraq. His family immediately wanted to help the children of Iraq in his memory. With help from the community of American Fork and the state of Utah, including Operation Give, they collected items such as food, toys, clothing, school supplies, hygiene items and even wheelchairs.

The donated items were loaded into a 40-foot-long shipping container. After several weeks, that container has finally arrived in Iraq. Now soldiers are distributing the goods to the Iraqis, and it is bringing his family comfort months after his death.

"We're very grateful that all of this has been done, and been done to honor Nathan. He truly was a wonderful individual. I don't say that just because I'm his dad, but it's gratifying to see some good has come out of what, for us, is a very personal tragedy, and we're still very close to that tragedy. But it is good to see that other people's lives are being blessed because of him and his service and sacrifice," Sgt. Barnes' father, Kevin Barnes, said.

Also included in the delivery were some footballs, soccer balls and Frisbees. Apparently the Frisbees were something the Iraqi children had never seen before.

Family members say they want to thank everyone who helped contribute to the project in Nathan's honor.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Project for Salt Lake City VAMC

The Salt Lake City, Utah VAMC has started a new project. In visiting many of the homebound veterans who are too sick to make it to the hospital, they have realized many do not have 72 hour kits in case of an emergency. So they have started a drive collecting items and kits.
My contact, Belinda, would like Angels to put together kits with the following items, and then put them in a bucket (which can be put to use as a port-a-potty in that emergency) with a sticker showing it was from the Angels! **** You do not have to put together a bucket, if you only want to donate items, that is very appreciated. We will fill the buckets with the items donated from the Angels!!!!
Thanks much angels you are the best! I know some items are large, so if you know of any companies that would like to donate, please let me know.

72 Hour Kit:
Windproof/waterproof matches
Other method to start a fire (lighter)
Wool blanket or sleeping bag
Hand and Body Warming Packs
Light sources, Flashlight with batteries
Candle, or light stick
Pocket knife
Sewing Kit
50 ft nylon rope
First Aid kit and supplies
whistle with neck cord
Bottle of potassium iodide tablets
Personal Sanitation Items
Soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, brush, combs,
Method of water purification
Granola Bars
Trail Mix
Pop top canned vegetables and fruits
Pop top canned juice
Cloth sheets
Plastic tarps
Mini hand sanitizers
Emergency reflective blanket
Lightweight stove and fuel

Consider the needs of elderly people as well as those with handicaps or other special needs when building your 72 hour kit.

Please send to, and include a note that it is from Soldiers Angels, and for the Soldiers Angels 72 hour kits!!!

Salt Lake City VAMC
Attn Belinda Karabatsos
500 Foothill Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84148

Friday, March 7, 2008

Veterans and Hearing Loss

updated 1:20 p.m. MT, Fri., March. 7, 2008

SAN DIEGO - Large numbers of soldiers and Marines caught in roadside bombings and firefights in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home with permanent hearing loss and ringing in their ears, prompting the military to redouble its efforts to protect the troops from noise.

Hearing damage is the No. 1 disability in the war on terror, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and some experts say the true toll could take decades to become clear. Nearly 70,000 of the more than 1.3 million troops who have served in the two war zones are collecting disability for tinnitus, a potentially debilitating ringing in the ears, and more than 58,000 are on disability for hearing loss, the VA said.

"The numbers are staggering," said Theresa Schulz, a former audiologist with the Air Force, past president of the National Hearing Conservation Association and author of a 2004 report titled "Troops Return With Alarming Rates of Hearing Loss."

One major explanation given is the insurgency's use of a fearsome weapon the Pentagon did not fully anticipate: powerful roadside bombs. Their blasts cause violent changes in air pressure that can rupture the eardrum and break bones inside the ear.

Also, much of the fighting consists of ambushes, bombings and firefights, which come suddenly and unexpectedly, giving soldiers no time to use their military-issued hearing protection.

"They can't say, `Wait a minute, let me put my earplugs in,'" said Dr. Michael E. Hoffer, a Navy captain and one of the country's leading inner-ear specialists. "They are in the fight of their lives."

In addition, some servicemen on patrol refuse to wear earplugs for fear of dulling their senses and missing sounds that can make the difference between life and death, Hoffer and others said. Others were not given earplugs or did not take them along when they were sent into the war zone. And some Marines weren't told how to use their specialized earplugs and inserted them incorrectly.

Hearing damage has been a battlefield risk ever since the introduction of explosives and artillery, and the U.S. military recognized it in Iraq and Afghanistan and issued earplugs early on. But the sheer number of injuries and their nature — particularly the high incidence of tinnitus — came as a surprise to military medical specialists and outside experts.

The military has responded over the past three years with better and easier-to-use earplugs, greater efforts to educate troops about protecting their hearing, and more testing in the war zone to detect ear injuries.

The results aren't in yet on the new measures, but Army officials believe they will significantly slow the rate of new cases of hearing damage, said Col. Kathy Gates, the Army surgeon general's audiology adviser.

Considerable damage has already been done.

For former Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly, 27, of Austin, Texas, the noise of war is still with him more than four years after the simultaneous explosion of three roadside bombs near Baghdad.

"It's funny, you know. When it happened, I didn't feel my leg gone. What I remember was my ears ringing," said Kelly, whose leg was blown off below the knee in 2003. Today, his leg has been replaced with a prosthetic, but his ears are still ringing.

"It is constantly there," he said. "It constantly reminds me of getting hit. I don't want to sit here and think about getting blown up all the time. But that's what it does."

Sixty percent of U.S. personnel exposed to blasts suffer from permanent hearing loss, and 49 percent also suffer from tinnitus, according to military audiology reports. The hearing damage ranges from mild, such as an inability to hear whispers or low pitches, to severe, including total deafness or a constant loud ringing that destroys the ability to concentrate. There is no known cure for tinnitus or hearing loss.

The number of servicemen and servicewomen on disability because of hearing damage is expected to grow 18 percent a year, with payments totaling $1.1 billion annually by 2011, according to an analysis of VA data by the American Tinnitus Association. Anyone with at least a 10 percent loss in hearing qualifies for disability.

From World War II and well through Vietnam, hearing damage has been a leading disability.

Despite everything that has been learned over the years, U.S. troops are suffering hearing damage at about the same rate as World War II vets, according to VA figures. But World War II and Iraq cannot easily be compared. World War II was a different kind of war, waged to a far greater extent by way of vast artillery barrages, bombing raids and epic tank battles.

Given today's fearsome weaponry, even the best hearing protection is only partly effective — and only if it's properly used.

Some Marines were issued a $7.40 pair of double-sided earplugs, with one side designed to protect from weapons fire and explosions, the other from aircraft and tank noise. But the Marines were not given instructions in how to use the earplugs, and some cut them in half, while others used the wrong sides, making the devices virtually useless, Hoffer said. Today, instructions are handed out with the earplugs.

In any case, hearing protection has its limits. While damage can occur at 80 to 85 decibels — the noise level of a moving tank — the best protection cuts that by only 20 to 25 decibels. That is not enough to protect the ears against an explosion or a firefight, which can range upwards of 183 decibels, said Dr. Ben Balough, a Navy captain and chairman of otolaryngology at the Balboa Navy Medical Center in San Diego.

The Navy and Marines have begun buying and distributing state-of-the-art earplugs, known as QuietPro, that contain digital processors that block out damaging sound waves from gunshots and explosions and still allow users to hear everyday noises. They cost about $600 a pair.

The Army also has equipped every soldier being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan with newly developed one-sided earplugs that cost about $8.50, and it has begun testing QuietPro with some troops.

In addition, the Navy is working with San Diego-based American BioHealth Group to develop a "hearing pill" that could protect troops' ears. An early study in 2003 on 566 recruits showed a 25 to 27 percent reduction in permanent hearing loss. But further testing is planned.

And for the first time in American warfare, for the past three years, hearing specialists or hearing-trained medics have been put on the front lines instead of just at field hospitals, Hoffer said.

Marines and soldiers are getting hearing tests before going on patrol and when they return to base if they were exposed to bombs or gunfire.

"You have guys that don't want to admit they have a problem," Hoffer said. "But if they can't hear what they need to on patrol, they could jeopardize their lives, their buddies' lives and, ultimately, their mission.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Legislature approves Veterans Nursing Home

Legislature approves veterans nursing home
February 29th, 2008 @ 11:20am

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Legislature has approved nearly $20 million for a new veterans nursing home in Ogden.

The Senate gave its final approval to the funding Friday. Nobody voted against the measure.

More than 100 veterans were on hand to watch the vote.

Utah only has one veterans' nursing home, and it is in Salt Lake City. The new veterans home is expected to ease crowding at that home and allow people to get treatment closer to their families.

Gov. Jon Huntsman is expected to approve the funding.