Monday, May 30, 2011

National Public Radio and a Philadelphia Love Story

Sergeant Jose Matos and Captain John Felts spoke from the heart today about the Lopez family and this terrible tragedy. Please read this and forward the story to your friends. If you believe in this cause, buy one of my books for a Veteran. You can also visit my Facebook cause and donate directly to the Wounded Warrior Project:

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May 30, 2011
This Memorial Day, we remember our fallen soldiers. Many have died in combat, but increasingly, for off-duty members of the National Guard and Army Reserves, soldiers are dying by their own hands. Nationally, the number of those who've committed suicide has nearly doubled from 80 in 2009 to 145 last year.
On the track team of Philadelphia's Thomas Edison High School, Jadira Angulo was fast. But not as fast as Ivan Lopez, her teammate.
"I was always right behind him; [I'd] never catch up," Angulo says. "One day I was weightlifting, and I just started looking at him and this attraction just came over me."
In 2007, during their senior year of high school, Jadira Angulo and Ivan Angulo skipped school, wore matching red shirts, went to the mall and had their photo taken.
Enlarge Courtesy of Jadira Angulo In 2007, during their senior year of high school, Jadira Angulo and Ivan Angulo skipped school, wore matching red shirts, went to the mall and had their photo taken.
Angulo flips through a scrapbook that records the couple's romance: prom, graduation, marriage and the birth of their first child, Maya.
In December 2007, Lopez deployed to Afghanistan. Sgt. Jose Matos says even there, his best friend kept running.
"We're running on this asphalt, and it's probably like 102 or 103 degrees. So he would finish his run, come get the other soldiers and bring 'em back in. He'd be like, 'Come on stay with me! You can do it! You can do it!' That's the type of soldier he was," he says.
Depression Sets In
After Lopez returned home in November 2008, he found a job at Amtrak. He drank more and was quick to lose his temper.
"Well, we started arguing from the beginning. After New Year's 2010, that's when it really went out of hand," Angulo says.
Matos recalls a heart-to-heart he had with Lopez at annual training last summer. "We sat down and he asked me, 'Do you think we're still the same?' And I told him 'No, we're not. We're different guys now,'" Matos says.
Days after their conversation, Lopez was admitted to the hospital for a week. His wife says he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He was sent home with medication and an emergency hotline number.
"He felt really depressed and his life wasn't worth anything. He didn't follow up with therapy but they didn't follow up with me either," Angulo says.
Lopez also didn't regularly take his medication. He said it made him too sleepy to work his night shift. Matos says not long after the birth of the couple's second child, Lopez started missing monthly drills.
"He thought that he didn't need help from nobody. He didn't want to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He said, 'I don't want that. What the hell is that? I don't want that,'" Matos says.
By winter, the couple separated. On Jan. 27, Lopez called his wife. "I remember the last thing he told me was, 'I love you. And tell the kids I love 'em,'" Angulo says.
The next day Angulo discovered her husband had hanged himself in their home. He was 23 years old.
"My stepdad had got him down, tried to give him CPR to see if he would come back," she says.
'He Will Always Be My Hero'
This February, the pastor who married Angulo and Lopez also led his funeral service.
For Capt. John Felts, Lopez's unit commander, it was the first flag he presented in his 15 years of service. "It was hard. I don't think anyone wants to ever lose a soldier," he says. "I feel it was a combat death — or a combat-related death, you know."
Felts says when a guardsman returns home, the warning signs are often missed.
"In active duty, people see this person every day, and you can grab that soldier immediately and say 'Get this help,' where in the Guard and Reserve, we only see the guys one weekend a month. We have to come up with better ways to create a support system for these guys," Felts says.
Matos, who also suffers from PTSD, says he will never forget his friend.
"He will always be my hero. When I'm at my lowest, I will think of him, and that's what's going to dig me out of my situation," Matos says.
Lopez was the 14th Pennsylvania Guardsman to have committed suicide since 2003.
Click here to visit the NPR story page

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book review by Thomas Leo, graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

An associate of mine reads and publishes reviews of military literature. Mr. Leo took quite a bit of time to write this review and I'm extremely thankful for his support. God Bless you Sir!

Review of “Service and Sacrifice”,
Memories of Operation Iraqi Freedom;
Along with a Veterans Mental Health and Resource Guide,
by Lt. Samuel J. Console. Published by Xlibris Corp.

Ever been in combat?

Ever been shot at?

Ever wonder if your next step on a road would be your last?

Ever go through a door wondering if someone was waiting on the other side to kill you?

Ever live ‘always on the edge’, with one ear listening for ‘incoming’?

Well, this is what faced the author’s and his men from the PA National Guard, what went through their minds as they performed their mission, - the most dangerous in the Iraq war - of clearing Iraqi buildings and roads for combat units in Iraq. They were a Line Company designated to support other troops engaged on the battlefield, a company whose mission in combat would be to clear the way for forward movement of infantry, armor, and logistics patrols.
Route clearance follows the army combat engineering tradition of “clearing the way”.
The authors’ unit was also tasked with helping to provide and plan for security for the elections in 2005, knowing that the enemy - erhabe - would attempt to sabotage the process; he and his troops were successful and he covers this series of events in the narrative.

The author tells a complex story in an eminently readable way from the time he was an enlisted “grunt”, to his transition to the ranks of officers, a true ‘mustang’ – and arguably a better officer because of the prior experience since he was familiar with the GI’s way of life, ‘spoke their language’ and had their respect.  The book, almost a two year autobiography, is filled with photographs and there is a map at the front showing the various places referred to in the text, as well as a glossary of military terms/abbreviations.

The most deadly threat the men faced was the IED – the Improvised Explosive Device – then there were the VBIEDs – the Vehicle Borne IEDs, and the SVIED or Suicide VBIEDs, and the EFP or Explosive Formed Projectile.    

According to the author, and others who have been there, “Life can never be as it was before combat’; a lot of troops from all wars have suffered from
PTS – Post Traumatic Stress – it used to be called ‘battle rattle’ – many had it and were improperly diagnosed, much to their detriment.
The author has been diagnosed with PTSD, refers to it toward the end of the book and includes some helpful advice on what to do – get a copy of your medical file -  starting when deployment orders are received and continuing on to list agencies where someone in need can get help.

The book is highly recommended, it is a very good read, an excellent tale of a leader involved with his troops.

The reviewer, Thomas W. Leo, CPP, is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Medal of Honor ceremony compliments the bravery of modern troops

I was awestruck with the events as they unfolded last night when I received an email notification Osama Bin Laden was dead. A combined force of US elite military including Seal Team 6 surgically raided Bin Laden's hideaway and killed him in direct fire action after giving him one last chance to surrender.
Below is the story of the Presidential ceremony held today, 5/2/11 to award two posthumous Medal of Honor awards for US servicemen killed-in-action in Korea 1951/1952. Everyone should read the full story of this modern day Service and Sacrifice as well as two wonderful examples from the Korean War. God Bless our military of today and for those who served in history!... God Bless their Families!... and God Bless America!

If you support our military, please purchase a copy of my book for a Veteran or the family of a deployed Vet at:

Sam Console

Associated Press

May 3, 2011

— When President Obama expressed his pride Monday in America's men and women in uniform, he wasn't just speaking about those who hours earlier had killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but about those who six decades ago had given their lives in the Korean War.

During a somber ceremony Monday in the White House, Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor posthumously on two Army privates — Anthony T. Kaho'ohanohano of Pukalani, Hawaii, and Henry Svehla of Belleville, N.J.

"Today we remember them with the highest military decoration that our nation can bestow," Obama said, describing the pair as "hometown kids who stood tall in America's uniform."