A question for the couple who brought this issue forward

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Apr 20, 2009, 11:30:51 AM4/20/09
to veterans resource and advice
I understood from Thom that you are an "awesome couple" and I
certainly value his opinion very much.

Thank you for the wonderful work you did and thanks to Thom, a super
champion of veterans' causes for shining the light on this issue.

Would you please help me to understand how were you able to dig up
this information and how certain are you that the information - the
names, cause of deaths, etc; listed - is correct? This is
information that is difficult sometimes even for family members to

The answer to my question will certainly come up in the process of
bringing this issue to public notice. I am assuming that you will
have a satisfactory answer to my question, but it is the most
important one to answer first. If your information is correct, there
are many other questions that come up in which case there are many
other questions that will come up, like

o did anyone in the VA (or in any of the AD Armed Forces Branches)
know about this?

o if yes, what were they doing about it?

o if not, how come nobody picked up on this issue?

o what are the real number of people affected?

BUT, the first step is for us to know if the information is correct
and I apologize for asking this question and hope you are not offended
by it.

If this information is correct, your finding is HUGE.

If the information is correct, we should consider if we'd want to have
a big media sensation and I am sure, many of the news organizations
would jump on this. This would be a great scoop for Fox News, 60
Minutes, etc
On the other hand, should we not consider taking this issue first to
the VA, straight to the new Chief? Give them an opportunity to right
this situation and take appropriate action? And then, if they would
ignore us, we could make contact with the news media. What do you
all think?

Paul Hardy

Lest We Forget Support

Apr 20, 2009, 11:45:10 AM4/20/09
to veterans-resou...@googlegroups.com
Dear Paul,

As with anything in the Dept of the VA or DOD nothing appears 100% certain
as we are finding out based on our own situation, care and case within the
VA system for my husbands PTSD.

If it is all possible could you call me or give me a number to contact
you..emailing this is complicated and hard to get into all the details.


Lest We Forget Support

Apr 20, 2009, 11:47:19 AM4/20/09
to veterans-resou...@googlegroups.com
my home number is



----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul" <paulh...@gmail.com>
To: "veterans resource and advice"
Sent: Monday, April 20, 2009 11:30 AM
Subject: A question for the couple who brought this issue forward


Lest We Forget Support

Apr 20, 2009, 11:54:05 AM4/20/09
to veterans-resou...@googlegroups.com
Dear Paul,

The problem with many of these deaths appears to be...accidental suicide
being the lable the "military" and VA prefers to use when there is not
medical cause seen.

Below is an article that we thought would have results posted somewhere
online but none that I can find....

Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker was going to do an investigation into these type
of deaths but there is nothing online anywhere as to what the end result
was....was an investigation ever done?

Military Eyes Mysterious Troop Deaths
Associated Press | February 08, 2008
WASHINGTON - The Army's top doctor, noting the drug overdose death of actor
Heath Ledger, said Feb. 7 the military is investigating a series of
suspected similar deaths among wounded and injured Soldiers.

Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, the Army's surgeon general, said there has been
"a series, a sequence of deaths" in the new, so-called "warrior transition
units." Those are special units set up last year to give sick, injured and
war-wounded troops coordinated medical care, financial advice, legal help
and other services as they transition toward either a return to uniform or
back into civilian life.

Without giving a number, Schoomaker said the deaths among the convalescing
troops were "accidental deaths, we believe, often as a consequence of the
use of multiple prescription and nonprescription medicines and alcohol."

"This isn't restricted to the military, alone, as we all saw the unfortunate
death of one of our leading actors recently," Schoomaker told Pentagon

The New York medical examiner announced Wednesday that Ledger, the
28-year-old "Brokeback Mountain" star, died Jan. 22 from an accidental
overdose - the effects of taking six types of painkillers and sedatives.

Schoomaker said he didn't know whether the number of overdoses among
Soldiers was on the rise, but would try to provide statistics as soon as
possible. The series of deaths was noticed and is getting attention partly
because the new units concentrate the Army's temporarily disabled and ill
into special groups, thus making it possible for leaders to track and
tabulate their health issues more closely and carefully than ever before.

"We're dealing now with a group of wounded, ill or injured Soldiers that
have available to them through the medical system, a constellation of very
potent and potentially lethal drugs (when taken) in the wrong combination,"
Schoomaker said.

He said a special team of pharmacists and other military officials will meet
within days on the subject.

Officials are working to try to prevent such deaths and "alert the Soldiers
themselves about what the medications they have may do to them," Schoomaker

Officials want to "put a safety net around those folks who might have either
psychological problems or other injuries or illnesses which may make it
difficult to manage a constellation of drugs," he said.

"I don't believe those are suicides in the conventional sense. I think these
are truly accidental deaths," he said.

Schoomaker brought up the subject of overdoses when asked how he assessed
recent preliminary figures indicating a possible rise in Army suicides
during 2007.

The figures showed that, as of last month, officials had confirmed 89
suicides last year among active duty and activated National Guard and
Reserve - and that another 32 deaths were still under investigation. If all
are confirmed, the total of 121 would be nearly a 20 percent increase over

Soldiers who have killed themselves most commonly have used weapons, not
drug overdoses, which accounted for less than 10 percent of suicides in
recent years, according to Army figures.

Statistics show accidental overdoses have become a national problem, with
the deaths from accidental ingestion of multiple prescription drugs now
exceeding deaths from illegal drugs, Schoomaker said.

He was holding a press briefing to talk about the warrior in transition
units - three dozen units from which the military now oversees the care of
nearly 9,800 outpatient Soldiers. That includes nearly 1,400 with battle
related injuries and about 8,400 with diseases and non-battle injuries.

The Army said approximately 43 percent of them have never been deployed to
either the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, noting some have been injured in
training, deployments to other places and so on.

Schoomaker said the units are part of a fundamental change the Army has made
in its medical system since shoddy outpatient housing and bureaucratic
delays were exposed last year at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Officials have given greater priority to improving facilities for troops,
increasing medical staffing and working with families of disabled Soldiers.
They have coordinated efforts with the Veterans Administration, for instance
reducing by half some of the paperwork needed to get troops their benefits,
said Brig. Gen. Michael Tucker, assistant Army surgeon general for
transition care.

"It's been about a year since news reports brought to our attention some
serious deficiencies in how we support our outpatient wounded, ill and
injured warriors and our families," Schoomaker said. "In a little less that
a year, we have made a major revision to our approach to our care of these
Soldiers and support of their families

----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul" <paulh...@gmail.com>
To: "veterans resource and advice"
Sent: Monday, April 20, 2009 11:30 AM
Subject: A question for the couple who brought this issue forward

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