Here's one of the most complete pages on Agent Orange thanks to Paul Sutton, former president of the New Jersey Council of the VVA.

Get out your decoder rings Space Rangers. Only the smartest readers will follow this link. Friends of Doc Adam, this means you!

Is this Elton John?

Click here for the Latest and Greatest page 2

Ever heard of an SFW cluster bomb? I thought they were only found in Hollywood Iron Man movies. Was I ever wrong! Click to learn about America's latest battlefield dominator.

And for your edutainment: From MSNBC -- owned by General Electric.

U.S. opts out of landmark cluster bomb treaty
Weapons’ biggest makers, users not among 111 countries to adopt ban

updated 9:02 a.m. MT, Fri., May. 30, 2008
DUBLIN, Ireland - Diplomats from 111 nations formally adopted a landmark treaty banning cluster bombs on Friday after futile calls for participation by the weapons’ biggest makers and users, particularly the United States.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged every nation in the world to sign the painstakingly negotiated pact “without delay.”

A St George Spectrum editorial: Veterans' health care needs improvement

Our nation's veterans put their lives on the line to protect Americans and U.S. allies. They did their duty at the expense of time with family and friends, as well as their own well being.

It seems only fair that they not get the run-around when they seek health care after being discharged from military service. But too often, veterans are getting directed to clinics hundreds of miles away for routine procedures that they should receive right here in Southern Utah.

read the rest of this important piece here:

Permit me a brief personal note:

I've gotten un-twisted since I learned we have about 30,000 hits a month on this site. I joked: "I want more, MORE, ALWAYS MORE!!! hahahah" I've thought it over and I've decided that the only hit I have anything to do with is my own.

I've been walking a tightrope, balancing all my life interests with web design. Last month the site suffered neglect compared to May, June and July where I spent hours and hours attempting to keep things current. No can do. Now I need to start cherry picking.

Email me if you have ideas about improving this site. Andrew Wilson

Janet O'Reiley Herron, long time web master for VVA Chapter 924 wins Galaxy Class Web Award for Service Above and Beyond.


President of Iran
Would you buy a used car from this man?

AndrewAlmost all the content on these pages comes from other sources and then adapted for the vets' site. Here's a page I wrote about taking a road test to renew my drivers license. Kudos to Utah public safety. Officer Ray Newbury taught me a lot! Here's what he wanted to share with you...

More "Rumblings from Sergeant Mike". Listen up! Mike forwards this insight from Roberto J. Prinselaar,from Saint George.

I continue to hear the term “political correctness” which means that the alternative has to be political incorrectness. If we mention God in a public forum we are politically incorrect as an example.

This means that we as citizens must be very careful how we interpret the first amendment to the constitution. We are no longer free to utter anything which may be construed as politically incorrect [because of] the influence of a powerful minority unfairly wielding the power of the government and the media.

Are we who firmly believe in God and the words inscribed on federal government buildings and our coins supposed to surrender our beliefs to please atheists and agnostics? Apparently so, since our children may not pray while in school, and prayers at public gatherings are frowned upon.

Political correctness was an institution practiced by the Nazis and Communists to control their populations. Any politically incorrect statement could result in being picked up and sent to a concentration camp or gulag. Are we headed in that same direction?

I certainly hope not, but we must rebut every attempt to have us conform to that ideology. We are a nation built on Christian ideals, and our founding fathers made that very clear in their writings.
Let us all fight the atheistic minority, remove the term “political correctness” from usage, and return to the free usage
of prayer wherever we may be. We are a free people, let us remain so!
Roberto J. Prinselaar

Veterans: Maybe now is the time to buy or build your dream home.


by Miriam Aiazzi
Citywide Home Loans

The mortgage industry has come under severe stress in the last few months, largely due to the unwillingness of Wall Street to purchase sub-prime mortgage backed securities that carry a higher risk factor....

What has made the situation all the more frustrating for many is that mortgage interest rates have dropped to a forty year low. The time to buy and refinance is now, and your Vet qualification for a VA loan can help you own your own home, even if you couldn't qualify for a conventional loan before.

What has remained a constant in this time of ever changing guidelines is the state of govern-ment backed mortgages, namely FHA and VA Loans.
In fact the recent Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 signed into law on February 13th has increased loan limits on FHA and VA loans from $417,000 to $729,750.  This is great news for individuals who were previously required to get ‘jumbo’ loan rates, as well as individuals in VA loans seeking to refinance.

What is even more enticing is that no down payment is required for VA loans for both purchase and construc-tion loans if the veteran has full entitlement.  This allows veterans to retain their saving for other purposes, and offers an advantage to borrowers who have been unable to accumulate savings.

Furthermore, VA loans do not require mortgage insurance (still required on FHA loans) and neither do they require cash reserves, again allowing veterans to retain their savings. 

Read more about VA loans here

Miriam Aiazzi can be reached at (801)747-2540 Her cell is (801)703-3748
email her at


I was walking past the mental hospital the other day and all the patients inside the fence were shouting "13....13....13"
The fence was too high to see over, but I found a little hole in the planks and looked through to see what was going on......

Someone poked me in the eye with a stick. Then they all started shouting "14....14....14"

"If I were a terrorist."

Click here for the Latest and Greatest page 2

Do I Need To Be Tested For Hepatitis C?

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a disease that affects the liver. It is caused by a virus called the hepatitis C virus, or HCV for short.

According to published studies, almost 4 million people in the United States have hepatitis C. Veterans using VA facilities have higher rates of hepatitis C than the general population.


What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?

Most people with hepatitis C don't have any symptoms. Some people, however, can have mild symptoms soon after being infected.

Still, Hep C is a serious illness. It may never go away. Over time it can cause cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver and liver cancer.

Symptoms of Hep C can include the following:

  • jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • fatigue (being tired)
  • muscle aches
  • dark urine
  • abdominal (stomach) pain
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea

Usually, these symptoms go away without any treatment.

Who should get tested?

Talk with your VA doctor about being tested if any of the following are true for you.

Don't let this happen to you.

If you:

  • are a Vietnam Veteran!!!
  • Wish to be tested.
  • Have ever used a needle to inject drugs, even if just once and it was a long time ago
  • Had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1991
  • Are a health care worker who had contact with blood on the job
  • Are or have been on long-term kidney dialysis
  • If your mother had hepatitis C when you were born
  • Had exposure to blood on the skin
  • Have tattoos or body piercings
  • Have ever snorted cocaine
  • Have liver disease
  • Have a history of drinking a lot of alcohol
  • Have had an abnormal liver function test
  • Have had multiple sex partners

It's OK to get tested if you just want to know your status.

If you feel uncomfortable telling your VA health care provider about your sexual or drug-use history, just tell someone in the VA that you are concerned and want to get tested.

How can I protect myself?

Right now, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. But there are things you can do to protect yourself from infection. The most important thing is to avoid other people's blood or things that might have other people's blood on them.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Do not shoot drugs. If you shoot drugs, stop and ask your doctor about a treatment program. While you wait for enrollment in a treatment program, do not share or reuse needles or other equipment, and get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.
  • Don't share personal items that might have blood on them. These items include razors, toothbrushes, and personal health supplies.
  • Consider the risks if you are thinking about getting a tattoo or body piercing. You might get infected if the tools have someone else's blood on them, or if the artist or piercer does not follow good health practices, such as washing hands and using disposable gloves.
  • Use a latex condom every time you have sex. Hepatitis C can occasionally be spread by sex. Talk with your sex partner about hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Get vaccinated against hep B.
  • If you are a health care worker, follow standard precautions. Handle needles and other sharps safely.

These suggestions also may help protect you from other diseases, such as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and HBV (hepatitis B virus).



Flag Day dawn

Updated August 22, 2008

We have been reformatting and revamping the site in significant ways. I encourage you to look at our links page found here. Lots of material on PTSD and other interesting fun stuff like "All Your Base Are Belong to US.

Just about everything on these pages in a shade of blue is a link. If its Underlined, It's A Link

US, Iraq close in on deal for pullout of US troops

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA and ROBERT BURNS,Associated Press Writers
Fri Aug 22, 6:35 AM ET

BAGHDAD - Iraq and the U.S. pushed close to a deal Thursday setting a course for American combat troops to pull out of major Iraqi cities by next June, with a broader withdrawal from the long and costly war by 2011.

Subject to final approval by the top Iraqi leadership, the exit date for U.S. troops would be December 2011, although the Americans insist on linking that target to additional security and political progress.

President Bush has long resisted a timetable for pulling out, even under heavy pressure from a nation distressed by American deaths and discouraged by the length of the war that began in 2003. But that has softened in recent weeks.

The timing has major political importance in both Iraq and the United States. Click on this link to read the rest of the story.

Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks to me like no matter who gets elected ... we are going to be in Iraq for a long, long, long time. [aw Ed.]

Web Site Educates About Hiring War Vets
Wednesday 20 August 2008
by: The Associated Press

Washington -

They survived war, but for some Iraq and Afghanistan veterans going to work back home isn't easy, either.

An estimated 300,000 from the two wars have returned home with mental health problems, so-called invisible wounds, and about the same number suffered head injuries, according to a private study from the RAND Corp. think tank. Associated problems can include depression, flashbacks, irritability, headaches and short-term memory loss.

For those in the National Guard and Reserves, returning to a civilian job at a workplace such as a bank or firehouse can be difficult as they make the transition back while trying to cope with new issues. Also, some veterans have complained they can't find work after they leave the military because employers are hesitant to hire them.

Starting Wednesday, the Labor Department is making available to current or potential employers resources to help them better understand the mental health issues veterans may face. It is rolling out a Web site, America's Heroes at Work, and has created a toll-free number, 800-526-7234, for employers with questions.

One of the messages of the initiative is that many of the veterans' symptoms are either manageable or will go away with time. Another message is that small changes, such as scheduled rest breaks for a veteran with a traumatic brain injury, can make a big difference.

The effort was praised by veterans groups, which say a lingering stigma about veterans and mental health keeps some of them from getting jobs.

"Those injuries are something that can be accommodated," said Ryan Kules, 27, an injured Iraq veteran and former Army captain who coordinates the "warrior-to-work" program at the nonprofit Wounded Warrior Project.

Last year, a presidential commission recommended that the Defense Department and Veterans Affairs Department aggressively work to prevent, diagnose and treat veterans with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder - signature wounds of the Iraq war.

Traumatic brain injury is a blow or penetrating injury to the head that disrupts brain function. Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that can develop in response to an extreme event.

One of the best ways to help the vets "is to help them return to full, productive lives through work," said Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. "Employment can also play a role in their recovery."


On the Web:

America's Heroes at Work:

New Army program hints of great strides in early onset ptsd recovery. Soldiers who want to Soldier On have an alternative to Medical Discharge.

Read about this pioneering work being done at Fort Bliss here.

American Hitman, the dogs of war.

Five Marines, on the chopper.
Born out of the fiery depths of Fallujah, Iraq, during Operation Phantom Fury in 2004, five talented musicians joined forces in hopes of creating the ultimate, no-holds-barred, in your face rock group. Playing only on acoustic guitars and ammo cans, the hardcore group of United States Marines began writing songs about the true face of combat; a side of the story that the media has never and will never show the public.

When it was time to go back to the United States, these five war dogs decided that they needed a name for their bombastic, hard hitting band of trained madmen; they decided to call themselves the “American Hitmen”.

Note from Andrew:
I saw American Hitmen last night at the University Mall Starbucks. They were raising money to send Starbucks back to the Marines in Falujah by the pound. An acoustic fundraiser. I was impressed for once. Usually hate bands. I hope they will play for Utah Veterans in September for Suicide Prevention Week
. I'm sure you will dig their crazy sounds.

Check out the website!


Dept. of Veterans Affairs to Begin Paid Advertising
Previous Outreach Efforts no Longer Adequate, Officials Conclude

By Ira Teinowitz
Published: July 22, 2008

After at least 30 years of banning paid advertising, the Department of Veterans Affairs has decided it's OK after all.

Under congressional pressure, VA Secretary James B. Peake has dropped the department's longstanding ban and is about to issue its first request for proposals seeking an agency to develop communications to reach the nation's 24 million living veterans.

Spending yet to be announced. Still undetermined, said one department official, is how much the government will spend to advertise veterans' benefits.

For years, the agency -- which was known as the Veterans Administration until it became a cabinet-level department -- has been reaching out to veterans to explain its benefits and services. Currently 7 million are signed up for veterans' health care, and 3.6 million veterans and their spouses receive some sort of allowance, often for injury suffered while on duty, but more are eligible.

According to Congress the VA's efforts to reach out to Veterans to tell them about their benefits have been weak and ineffectual. That is the whole reason about forcing the VA to use media channels to reach Vets. Read the rest of the story here.

Just for fun:
n this age of frightening news it's often valuable to get a second opinion. In fact, some declare All is well. All is Well. When I listen to this hymn I can believe it... at least for a little while.

Would you believe we have video of Elton John singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir? Click here to see it. The music is something special....

New Utah Valley VVA Chapter forming.

We have leared by sad experience that these things never work out well unless they are fun. The most valuable resource in a vets recovery from Combat is a resillient safety net of friends and associates. A lifesaver when we fall off the trapeeze we put ourselves on. We want to help build that safety net for Utah veterans: one vet at a time. And have fun. Tell jokes, go to the movies with the boys, burn weiners, go fishing, go golfing, ride Harleys. Hang out with the home boys and get a reality check when your wife is driving you out of your frick'n mind. To get more information, or get on the phone list, or the email list, Click Here to Send Us An E-Mail.

Have some fun.

Read our development plan here:

Women Vets Get Worse Care, Review Finds
Outpatient care at many VA facilities needs vast upgrade, officials say.

Associated Press June 14Women Vets

Washington - Women veterans aren't receiving the same quality of outpatient care as men at many Department of Veterans Affairs' facilities, according to an agency review obtained exclusively by The Associated Press.

The review appears to validate the complaints of advocates and some members of Congress who have said the health care system needs to focus more on women's health.

Women make up about 5 percent of the VA's population, but that number is expected to nearly double in the next two years as more women return home from Iraq and Afghanistan and seek care.

The review of the quality of care at VA facilities, which was mandated by Congress, found that at about one-third of its facilities, the quality of outpatient care given to women wasn't as good as what was offered to men.

It said that the VA has made strides in improving care for women veterans, such as creating onsite mammography services and establishing women's clinics at most of its medical centers. It also said the VA is attempting to recruit clinicians with training in women's care and broadening its approach to better address diseases prevalent among women such as lung cancer.

However, it said that there were barriers that remained, such as the need to train more physicians in women's care and for more equipment to meet women's health needs.

"VHA is continuing to investigate the possibility of gender disparity in delivery of care through research efforts aimed at further delineating the factors involved," the review said.

It noted that other studies have found better surgical outcomes and decreased mortality for women at VA hospitals compared to women who receive care under the Medicare Advantage Program or under private care. And, performance of breast and cervical cancer screening exceeds that of commercial and some government plans.

But Dr. William E. Duncan, associate deputy undersecretary for health for quality and safety at the Department of Veterans Affairs, said any discrepancies in VA care were unacceptable and the agency is aggressively addressing the issue.

"We're striving to understand the reason for these health disparities and to eliminate differences in veterans health care based on personal characteristics," Duncan said.

Data was not available to compare the inpatient quality of care between men and women.

Overall, women make up about 14 percent of the U.S. Armed Forces. Of the 1.7 million troops who have deployed in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 190,000 - or about 11 percent - are women.

Among the Other Findings:

• Older and younger veterans appear to be receiving the same quality of care;
• About 86 percent of homeless veterans seen by VA received primary care, mental health care and/or substance abuse services;

• About 98 percent of appointments were completed within 30 days in primary care clinics and about 97 percent were completed during that period at specialty clinics;

• Overall quality of care appears to be good when reviewed using commonly accepted health care benchmarks;

• Minority veterans surveyed were generally less satisfied with inpatient and outpatient care than white veterans, but it wasn't clear if the quality of care offered was different. A more comprehensive study of care for minority veterans is expected to be complete this summer.

America's Medicated Army
from Time Magazine

An increasing number of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are treated in the field for PTSD with SSRI drugs. The effects, and side effects, of these drugs such as Zoloft and Paxil have recently been called into question by the National Institute of Mental Health. Other questions linking psych meds to the epidemic of suicides among soldiers and veterans are troublesome.

In 1994 then Major E. Cameron Ritchie, an Army psychiatrist, was among the first to suggest that SSRIs should deploy with Army combat units. In a paper written and published after she returned from a combat deployment to Somalia, Ritchie noted that the sick-call chests used by military doctors "contain either outdated or no psychiatric medications." She concluded, "If depressive symptoms are moderate and manageable, medication may be preferable to medical evacuation."
Read the entire story from Time here. It's chilling.

Along the same lines is a recent article from West Virginia's Charlotte Gazette"

A Putnam County veteran who was taking medication prescribed for post-traumatic stress disorder died in his sleep earlier this month, in circumstances similar to the deaths of three other area veterans earlier this year.

Derek Johnson, 22, of Hurricane, served in the infantry in the Middle East in 2005, where he was wounded in combat and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder while hospitalized.

Military doctors prescribed Paxil, Klonopin and Seroquel for Johnson, the same combination taken by veterans Andrew White, 23, of Cross Lanes; Eric Layne, 29, of Kanawha City; and Nicholas Endicott of Logan County. All were in apparently good physical health when they died in their sleep.
Read the entire story from the Gazette here

Click here for the Latest and Greatest page 2

VA Begins Next Phase of Combat Vet Outreach

Calls to Ill or Injured Veterans Completed

WASHINGTON (May 30, 2008) -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today it has completed making calls to veterans potentially
identified as being ill or injured from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF-OIF), and will immediately begin targeting
over 500,000 OEF-OIF veterans who have been discharged from active duty but have not contacted VA for health care.

"We promised to reach out to every OEF and OIF veteran to let them know we are here for them -- and we are making real progress in doing so,"
said Dr. James B. Peake, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

EagleLogoA contractor-operated "Combat Veteran Call Center" is making the initial calls on behalf of VA. All potentially sick or injured veterans on VA's list received an offer to appoint a care manager to work with them if
they do not have one already. VA care managers ensure veterans receive appropriate care and know about their VA benefits.

[ The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has selected EDS to provide outbound calling services and inbound callback support to facilitate the Combat Veteran Call Center outreach and education campaign to make combat veterans more aware of health care services and benefits available from the VA. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

The Combat Veteran Call Center will increase awareness of the extension of health care and benefits eligibility for veterans of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is the first task order awarded under the General Services Administration's $2.5 billion USA Contact contract vehicle. Calls will reach out to nearly 570,000 recent wartime veterans over the next six months. From BNet]

Let's see... $2.5 billion divided by 570,000 vets is $4,395.96 per vet. Sounds like EDS and Ross Perot got themselves a nice little contract. And isn't EDS headquartered in Texas? hmmmmmmm aw.

In the new phase, beginning today, veterans who have not accessed health care from VA will be called and informed of the benefits and services available to them. Additionally, military personnel received
information about VA benefits when they left active duty, and the Department had sent every veteran a letter with this information after their discharge.

For five years after their discharge from the military, these combat veterans have special access to VA health care, including screening for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

VA personnel have been deployed to the military's major medical centers to assist wounded service members and their families during the transition
to civilian lives.

"VA is focused on getting these veterans the help they need and deserve," said Secretary Peake. "I expect these calls to make a real difference in many veterans' lives."


A Vietnam Veteran tells his story of PTSD, holding nothing back

Steve Champeau has sad, tired eyes. He speaks cautiously, rarely laughs and rations smiles. His demeanor is not unkind ó just worn-out. He is tired of fighting.
Click for more

Read a moving spiritual essay contributed by Steve.

Steve's wife, Sue Champeau, has written a hard hitting, heartfelt essay you can read here.

My company in 'Nam.  "The Intruders."  Our motto:  "Hell from Above".  Nothing has changed.  Same in Iraq and Afghanistan

Dear friends,
The purpose of this site is to serve veterans, not to convert anyone to a particular religion -- or ANY religion. I hope you find the article helpful.   AW

How to Overcome Fear
by Truman G. Madsen

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."—Paul to Timothy (II Tim. 1:7)

Act and You Will Be Unafraid
One theory of emotion states that "you are afraid because you run," (Not that you run because you are afraid.) The fact is that when you take the part of courage, courage flows in to you.... Doubt and fear can be absolutely purged.
Read the rest of this powerful essay here

More Editorial Comment:
"Dissent and disagreement with Government is the life blood of human freedom." 

I don't wish to debate the wisdom of our twenty-first century wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I do know America has been battling Barbary Pirates since Thomas Jefferson was Ambassador to France. See in Wikipedia United States and the Barbary Wars

Since the power of the American government is derived from the people, the people have an obligation to elect a government that responds to the will of the citizens.  The government was created to serve the citizens:  not the other way around.  Thomas Jefferson said that Democracy required citizens to be educated. Citizens in a Republic like ours have a responsibility to learn all they can about civic issues and stay involved. Demand accountability. Look what happened to Nixon. The government works when the people do their part.

Keith Olberman seems a bit strident and dramatic in his presentation, especially when interviewing John Kerry. But then his journalism credentials are in covering Sports. Just the same, I find the factual material he presents interesting.

Watch him tear into Senator John McCain below.

Please email me if you find the Olberman video offensive.

Benefits Benefits Benefits

Brian Hunnewell at the Provo Vet Center was recently telling me that the Utah Department of Veteran's Affairs has recently updated their list of Utah Veterans Benefits.  It's a great resource. Check out those benefits here... Just a few of those many benefits include:


News from the Supremes
via The Patriot Post

Judicial Benchmarks: Indiana voter ID OK

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Democrat Party and the ACLU on Monday when it ruled that Indiana’s law requiring voters to produce a photo ID at the polls was not excessively burdensome. The Supreme Court’s decision paves the way for other states to take steps to prevent voter fraud. Liberal justice John Paul Stevens joined the court’s conservative justices in upholding Indiana’s law, and he wrote the majority opinion. “There is no question about the legitimacy or importance of the state’s interest in counting only the votes of eligible voters,” Stevens wrote. “Moreover, the interest in orderly administration and accurate recordkeeping provides a sufficient justification for carefully identifying all voters participating in the election process. While the most effective method of preventing election fraud may well be debatable, the propriety of doing so is perfectly clear.

We at Utah Veteran fully support Justice Stevens opinion.  What scares the whatfor out of us is the blatant vunerability of electronic voting machines to tampering and vote theft.  Check out the video from Princeton University here.

Think of this next time you are having a really miserable day...

A little boy, about 10-years-old, was standing before a shoe store on the roadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering with cold.

A lady approached the young boy and said, 'My, but you're in such deep thought staring in that window!'

'I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes,'was the boy's reply.

The lady took him by the hand, went into the store, and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel. He quickly brought them to her.

She took the little fellow to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with the towel.

By this time, the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy's feet, she purchased him a pair of shoes.

She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him.. She patted him on the head and said, 'No doubt, you will be more comfortable now.'

As she turned to go, the astonished kid caught her by the hand, and looking up into her face, with tears in his eyes, asked her. 'Are you God's wife?'

Click here for the Latest and Greatest page 2

A letter from the "Sand Box"
by Chaplain Jim Higgins

I recently attended a showing of "Spiderman 3" here at LSA Anaconda. We have a large auditorioum we use for movies as well as memorial services and other large gatherings. As is the custom back in the States, we stood and snapped to attention when the National Anthem began before the main feature.

All was going as planned until about three-quarters of the way through the National Anthem the music stopped.

Now, what would happen if this occurred with 1,000 18-22 year-olds back in the States? I imagine there would be hoots, catcalls, laughter, a few rude comments, and everyone would sit down and call for a movie. Of course, that is, if they had stood for the National Anthem in the first place.

Here, the 1,000 Soldiers continued to stand at attention, eyes fixed forward.

The music started again. The Soldiers continued to quietly stand at attention. And again, at the same point, the music stopped. What would you expect to happen? Even here I would imagine laughter as everyone sat down and expected the movie to start.

Here, you could have heard a pin drop. Every Soldier stood at attention. Suddenly there was a lone voice, then a dozen, and quickly the room was filled with the voices of a thousand Soldiers...

And the rockets red glare,
the bombs bursting in air,
gave proof through the night
that our flag was still there.

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

It was the most inspiring moment I have had here in Iraq. I wanted you to know what kind of Soldiers are serving you here.

To all who shall see these presents, greeting: This is to certify that the President of the United States of America authorized by Executive Order, 24 August 1962 has awarded

The Bronze Star Medal

Major James B. Higgins, United States Army

For exceptionally meritorious service during operation Iraqi Freedom. His outstanding dedication to duty during combat operations in Iraq contributed to the overwhelming success of the command’s mission. His actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon him, Multi-National Corps-Iraq, and the United States Army.

From 30 August 2006 to 14 August 2007

Given by my hand in the City of Washington
This 15th day of June 2007

Raymond T. Odierno
Lieutenant General, USA
PO 166-020, 15 June 2007

Chalplain Higgins
Major James B. Higgins, United States Army receives the Bronze Star Medal.
Pic is a link to his blog.

Here's a picture added specifically for Dick Southern, Region 9 director of the Vietnam Veterans of America. Hello, Dick!

Vanessa Dobos

Click here for the Latest and Greatest page 2