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Operation Red Dragonfly Veteran Health Outreach Mission in ColoradoTim King Salem-News.com
Veterans can in come cases, received disability claims for contact with toxic water, this is particularly true for those who served at Camp Lejuene in North Carolina.
(DENVER) - Operation Red Dragonfly, my solo motorcycle mission to travel the United States giving talks about contaminated military bases and other critical health issues like PTSD and Agent Orange, is already being met with great success.
I have had a number of amazing contacts as I make my way toward the state of Missouri where Operation Red Dragonfly organizer Sheree Evans, has scheduled two different speaking events that will take place in mid-September in the Springfield area.
I am riding solo to all four corners of the United States to discuss toxic military base contamination, to raise awareness about PTSD, and to offer solutions that we hope will lead to a reversal in the suicide rate among Veterans, which has soared to 22 per day; up from 18 a day in 2010.
As a former Marine who served at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, and EPA Superfund site for TCE (trichloroethylene) contamination, I and others feel compelled to reach Veterans everywhere and tell them that they too probably served at a contaminated base, and their families, also impacted by this lack of environmental stewardship and management, can in many cases take legal action.
Veterans can in come cases, received disability claims for contact with toxic water, this is particularly true for those who served at Camp Lejuene in North Carolina, where toxic water has made countless people sick, and claimed a number of lives that will probably never be fully realized. Advocates for Camp Lejeune survivors estimate that ten million people are impacted.
The stresses of war are taking a terrible toll on our Veteran population in America. Far more must be done to assist Veterans in this area. Too many Veterans are homeless today, as OCCUPY Marines (OMC) Founder Lars Ogren pointed out in a phone call a few hours ago. Large numbers of Veterans on the east coast and all over the US, are living without shelter, in the open, often cut off from services that PTSD prevents them from utilizing.
The answers may not always be easily found as PTSD takes on a myriad of faces, and affects each person in a way that is unique to them, despite common symptoms. But the answers do exist in many cases, and they do not always require a regimen of addictive, psychotropic drugs, which the VA so consistently prescribes for PTSD, leading to terrible problems and often death.
Earlier in the trip, I spent time with a Marine Vietnam Veteran in Eastern Oregon named Don Sexton, who has been studying PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in great detail, evaluating the research of several doctors who say managing the trauma of war is possible, by dealing with the chemical changes PTSD brings to the human brain.
The Baker City Herald carried an article about my ride for Veterans. It was written by Joshua Dillen, who focused on my work on PTSD with Don Sexton, while also exploring the idea of base contamination. It is a very well written piece and the link to the article is below.
I also interviewed Don for our upcoming documentary on PTSD.
I've heard more than one song in my life about being stuck inside with strangers during a storm in Colorado. I had that very experience in the lovely mountain town of Alma, where I found refuge in the town's only bar, with an incredible bartender and staff and patrons.
I was drenched from riding miles through the mountains in a downpour, and the bar had Wy-Fy and offered a perfect refuge from the storm, which eventually passed, and was replaced with a startling blue sky that was most welcome.
I almost didn't want to leave. The atmosphere was friendly and very alive, I recommend stopping at The Only Bar in Alma if you're ever in the area, great place, great people. It was an experience I will always remember; I was moved by the way people there showed strong interest in my mission to help Veterans.
In recent days I have spent time with our Photojournalist Robert 'Tosh' Plumlee, our primary contact for US/Mexico border stories. With the help of Tosh, I have written a number of articles about crime along the US border, including the notorious 'Fast and Furious' incident which we revealed as a serious issue long before the public knew that the US government was shipping hundreds (hundreds of thousands by insider accounts) of weapons to drug cartels in Mexico, allegedly so they could be traced. Indeed, the weapons were traced to the murder of two US federal agents, a prominent Mexican lawyer, and countless others.
His life is rich and parallels some of the most haunting sagas, like the assassination of President Kennedy and Iran/Contra.
Tosh is a former CIA asset and contract pilot, who was among the first people to blow the whistle on the drugs for weapons shipments carried out by the Reagan administration.
He is indeed as close as anyone could ever be to a living Forest Gump, and one of Salem-News.com's most fascinating writers and staff members. I was able to sample a good portion of the new book Tosh is writing, which is fascinating. We will release more information on 'Deep Cover Shallow Graves' in the near future and I can already tell you that it is very had to set down once you begin reading it.
I also visited a former Marine who I have written about named Nicholas Burgin. Nick served in Iraq during the campaign against Fallujah on mortuary duty. His team had to retrieve the bodies of fallen Marines in some of the most dangerous situations imaginable. Nick's first article was about how medical marijuana is a great aid for his PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Later Nick went to college in Washington on the new version of the GI Bill, only to have his funding pulled by the VA due to a fiscal "mistake" in the George W. Bush administration that cut payments for Vets attending college.
After that Nick returned to Colorado Springs, where an appointment at a VA office went awry and led to his arrest and a restraining order banning him from visiting the VA office itself. A statement made by Nick was misconstrued by a VA psychiatrist who had Nick arrested for making a threat.
As this took place, the VA canceled Nick's measly monthly payment of $376 which was not enough to make ends meet. Saddled with the stress of war, Nick took to the hills and began camping, wondering if things would ever look up.
After Nick's experience with the VA arrest and termination of his small payment, I wrote two articles, which delve into the whole story. I felt desperate at the time, I was talking to Nick and writing to him, urging him to make his way to my location so he could have a safe place to be.
After the October 2011 articles ran, which involved my grilling staff at the VA and the college in Washington, things began to change. I did not know however until seeing Nick two days ago at his new home in Colorado, that he was granted 100% disability shortly after this period from the VA and his life has improved sharply.
It was such a pleasure to meet this young man I had written about and to hear him state that he believes the news articles I wrote changed everything for him.
He lives in a state that is friendly toward medical marijuana, one of the tools in Nick's inventory for dealing with the effects of war. He has rooms in his new house painted in beautiful colors with lighting that is soothing, I was pleased beyond belief to see this young Marine's life turn out as a success story, you will be hearing more from Nick as he is joining our team of Salem-News.com writers.
Learn more about Nick Burgin:
After leaving Nick's, I had a long ride back to Tosh's house, so I stopped at a 7-11 on I-25 for a cup of coffee, and met a young man recently discharged from the US Army, named Joel Schneekloth. As it turns out, Joel was stationed in the Pesh Valley of Afghanistan, at a base I visited in 2007 called Camp Joyce.
This is the base from where Aaron Kenefick and three other Marines were dispatched from in 2009, to the ambush at Ganjgal village which led to many deaths and the incredible heroism of Marine Dakota Meyer, who was awarded the Medal of Honor. Read the article below to learn more.
Learn more about the ambush at Ganjgal:
Sep-28-2012: Aaron M Kenefick: A Marine Who Knew Too Much
Those interested in learning more can contact me via my email below, I am also addressing PTSD and Veteran suicide and gathering elements for a documentary on PTSD that is under production.
Anyone with questions can call 916 308-5902.
Many people are already helping, one significant person is Sheree Evans in Missouri, she is the east coast contact person for 'Operation Red Dragonfly'. You can write to Sheree at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in seeing this event come to your city or town.
People and organizations who have contributed include Bonnie King, Paul Stanford and The THC Clinic, Coral Theill, Charlie Smith, Vic Pittman, Mary Vogel, Joan Vogel, Kevin Saunders, Leonard Lawrence, Dennis Paterka, Karin Rougeau, Charlie Smith, Jean James, Bob and Donna Collinsworth, Robert and Grace O'Dowd, Al Hayward, James Frederickson, Michael Rawlings, Gary Bennett, Veterans United for Truth, EnyaDreamz Productions, The Ken King family, Sacramento Motorcycle Rentals, and several other are already stepping up. It is time to think outside of the box, time to reach out in person. We believe this is a cheap and effective approach that will gain measurable ground in our fight to save lives.
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With almost 25 years of experience on the west coast and worldwide as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor, Tim King is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine who follows stories of Marines and Marine Veterans; he's covered British Royal Marines and in Iraq, Tim embedded with the same unit he served with in the 1980's.
Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from traditional mainstream news agencies like The Associated Press and Electronic Media Association; he also holds awards from the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs; and was presented with a 'Good Neighbor Award' for his reporting, by the The Red Cross.
Tim's years as a Human Rights reporter have taken on many dimensions; he has rallied for a long list of cultures and populations and continues to every day, with a strong and direct concentration on the 2009 Genocide of Tamil Hindus and Christians in Sri Lanka. As a result of his long list of reports exposing war crimes against Tamil people, Tim was invited to be the keynote speaker at the FeTNA (Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America) Conference in Baltimore, in July 2012. This is the largest annual gathering of North American Tamils; Tim addressed more than 3000 people and was presented with a traditional Sri Lanka ‘blessed garland’ and a shawl as per the tradition and custom of Tamil Nadu
In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005. Serving readers with news from all over the globe, Tim's life is literally encircled by the endless news flow published by Salem-News.com, where more than 100 writers contribute stories from 23+ countries and regions.
Tim specializes in writing about political and military developments worldwide; and maintains that the label 'terrorist' is ill placed in many cases; specifically with the LTTE Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, where it was used as an excuse to slaughter people by the tens of thousands; and in Gaza, where a trapped population lives at the mercy of Israel's destructive military war crime grinder. At the center of all of this, Tim pays extremely close attention to the safety and welfare of journalists worldwide.
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