Tag Archives: images

Habitat Build 2008 Third Day – Roofing and Siding

Saturday, May 31 was the third day of the Presbyterian Coalition, Cobb Habitat for Humanity build in 2008.  This is the seventh  article in this series, the first covering the Traditional Dinner on the Slab which includes a slide show of 25 pictures and introduces the future homeowner, Nicole Combs and her son Elijah.   The second article is the beginning of a tutorial “ Habitat Tutorial, Preparation for Build“ which covers some of the intense preparation that goes on behind the scenes before the volunteers show up.   The third article covers the actual first day of build: Habitat Build 2008 First Day – Walls Go Up .  The fourth article is the second part of the tutorial, Habitat Tutorial – Part 2 .  Look to the right hand column of this page and find Oldtimer’s recent posts for the rest of them or to put them in order for reading.

For those of you looking for the homeless veterans or homeless youth, this is also it. Click on one the links above the banner or on either of the two links in this paragraph, or maybe check out the right sidebar.

This article covers the installation of the roof shingles, Hardi Plank siding, and various other 3d day activities.   From any slide show you can access various sizes of the prints for free download (instructions further down – “Getting Copies”).

Link to slide show – 170 pictures Click on picture or here

Link to a collection of all Habitat pictures (2007 and 2008) organized one set per day!

Getting Copies

The pictures shown here and in the slide show do not have the resolution you can get if you download them from the Flickr site.   If you are viewing a slide show containing the picture you want, click on the link at the top left of the slide show to get to the full set at high resolution, or click on any picture in the slide show and then click on “View Main Page”.    If you are looking at the mosaic of of a set for a particular day, you can click on the picture you want.    Once there, you can click on the button above the picture “All Sizes”.   It will open in the large size, but you can download any picture in any size free, or can order prints through the site that will be delivered in about an hour to your nearest Target store.  It’s not obvious how to get to the Target option. First put a print in your shopping cart.  When ready for checkout, you can send your prints to Target for printing for about 15 cents per copy or have them mailed to your home. 

In addition, you can go to “Zassle” and have T-shirts, coffee mugs etc. made with your favorite print.  Enjoy.  Below are selected prints but only a small sample of what is available for free download.

The Third Day

It’s amazing what has been accomplished in the first two days!   Not only are the walls up, but the walls are all up, the roof is decked and dried in, the exterior walls are covered with OSB, the windows are in all in and all but one door has been installed.   Today the plan is to put the shingles on and get a good start on the siding.  

The day, as always, starts with an orientation for new volunteers, a pep talk, then a safety talk and an introduction of the homeowner by our SPM (Site Project Manager), Jeff Vanderlip.   If you peek through the tent above the person in the white tee-shirt, that is Jeff in the orange tee-shirt and floppy hat facing us.  You can see that a couple of workers are already on the roof even before the rest of us get started.  They are laying “starter” courses for us to work from.   More about starter courses later.

Nicole Combs is the future homeowner and also in the picture.   To the left of the tent is a man with a purple cap.  Nicole is on the far side of the picture just to the right of him.  She is also in the top picture right in front of the wheelbarrow (yellow shirt).  

And this is Elijah.  He is the son of of our future homeowner.  He has a keen interest in what is going on as he will be living here, but he is too young to work on the site.  When around, he is confined to the food tent or visiting inside after the work is done and helping clean up the property or just playing nearby.  A great kid.

Shingles!

This is essentually the way we found the roof this morning.  The starter edge courses are alrady in place and the bundles of shingles are on the peak of the roof.   The shingles you see along the edges were put there by the Gray Ghosts that I’ve mentioned a number of times in my earlier posts.    

The two people on the roof are putting on starter courses that run up the centerline of the roof in such a way that volunteers can work off each side of the centerline toward each edge of the house.  That way at least four crews of workers can work at any one time.  They’ve also started the porch roof and valley so that the valley shingles can be put in as a “weave” for good looks on the front.

To see the rest of this article and some great pictures, click here: Continue reading

Habitat Build 2008 Second Day – Roof Goes On

Saturday, May 17 was the second day of the Presbyterian Coalition, Cobb Habitat for Humanity build in 2008.  This is the fifth article in this series, the first covering the Traditional Dinner on the Slab which includes a slide show of 25 pictures and introduces the future homeowner, Nicole Combs and her son Elijah.   The second article is the beginning of a tutorial ” Habitat Tutorial, Preparation for Build” which covers some of the intense preparation that goes on behind the scenes before the volunteers show up.   The third article covers the actual first day of build: Habitat Build 2008 First Day – Walls Go Up .  The fourth article is the second part of the tutorial, Habitat Tutorial – Part 2 .

For those of you looking for the homeless veterans or homeless youth, this is it. Click on one the links above the banner or on either of the two links in this paragraph, or maybe check out the right sidebar.

This article covers the installation of the roof trusses, roof decking and various other 2d day activities. To see the slide show of 126 pictures click here or on any picture below!  There is a (mostly) different set of 137 pictures (and growing) for the tutorial, by the way, so to see those check out the tutorials or click here for access to the tutorial slide show.  From any slide show you can access various sizes of the prints for free download (instructions further down – “Getting Copies”).

In the beginning there is the mandatory “have fun but be safe” safety and pep talk by Jeff Vanderlip, the fellow in the shirt of many colors. 

Everybody is introduced to Nicole Combs in the front middle.  She has already completed 100 hours of work on other homes and 100 hours of training on such things as mortgages, taxes, budgeting, how to maintain her new home, etc.    She is very active in helping on this house and has been an excellent “quality control” person that is making certain that her house is built right.   After the introductions, the crew leaders were introduced and jobs assigned to those willing to work in the rafters.

To read the rest of the story and see many more pictures, click here: Continue reading

Habitat for Humanity – 2008 Dinner on the Slab

Friday night we had our traditional Dinner on the Slab with our Future Homeowner and her family.  

(If you just want to see the pictures, click any picture for a slide show and link to pictures you can copy.)

First let me explain what this is all about.  This blog is pretty much dedicated to the homeless, particularly homeless veterans and youth.  But not completely, as each year I take some time off to work on a Habitat for Humanity home and post a progress report with slideshows, tutorial and pictures of the events.   I’ll continue to add articles on homeless as I go along.   You can access the articles by category, using the links in the header or the tags and categories to find the topics you are interested in.  In general, you can find all Habitat for Humanity Articles here, all Homeless Veterans Articles here, All PSTD articles here, and all Homeless Youth Article here.  The links above and to the right allow you to also find my most popular articles.   When this is all done, you can find the 2008 Habitat Build here, or look at it on a running basis throughout the build.

This one is the first of a series of about a dozen articles on our current build.  It will carry you from the day before we start to build (todays article) all the way through the dedication ceremony and house warming.  If I do everything as planned, you will also get a “how to build a Habitat House Tutorial”.   To be taken with a grain of salt as I am certainly not an expert, but reporting what I experience and the various jobs I take on during the build.

Background

Here is a little background.  I am a member of Macland Prebyterian Church which is in return a member of the Presbyterian Coalition, Cobb Habitat for Humanity and I am their representative, a member of the board.    The Coalition is composed of  Presbyterian Churches in Cobb County, Georgia that raise money to sponsor one or two houses in our county each year.  We raise the money, about $55,000 to pay for the lot and any undonated materials.  We also build the house(s) and fund a number of houses in Kenya each year.    After Hurricane Dennis we also helped Cobb Disaster Recovery in rebuilding damaged homes in Cobb.

This year we will build one house in Cobb County, Georgia (our 22d house in Cobb so far) and seven in Kenya (total 32 in Kenya)!

Nicole Combs

Nicole Combs, Future Homeowner stands on the site of her new home

(Click on any picture to start slide show)

Elijah

This wonderful smiling face belongs to Elijah, Nicole’s son.  Some of the framing can be seen behind him

The future homeowner, Nicole Combs has a son Elijah, 7.  She will work on the house with our volunteers to get the house built.   Homeowners come up with a down payment, are required to work on other houses as well as  their own for some 200 hours of “sweat equity”.   For us, it is mission work, Christ’s command: help the needy!

The homeowner will actually sign a contract to buy the house at a greatly reduced price (compared to the appraised value)  and then make interest-free monthly payments until it is paid for.  Cobb Habitat for Humanity takes care of selecting the homeowners, purchasing the land and preparing the streets and lots prior to the volunteers (that’s us) coming in.  That includes getting either the concrete poured if it is to be built on a concrete floor,  or building a  block foundation if not.  In the latter case, a few people, men and women from our group go out and frame and deck the floor prior to the volunteers arriving.  

Schedule:  The build dates are Saturdays May 10, 17, 31 and June 14.   Then we go into blitz week where volunteers work all week to finish the house and landscaping June 16 through 21.  (We have skipped an extra weekend this year due to Memorial Day weekend.)

Location:  The site is located in the same subdivision as last year, but in the second phase of the development.  Mableton, Hillcrest Subdivision.  Take Barrett/East West Connector to Floyd Road, turn right, follow and continue as it changes to Mableton Parkway, turn right on South Gordon Road, then left on Hillcrest.  Look for a new subdivision on the left.about 8/10 mile from South Gordon Road.   About a 20 minute drive from our church.

Youth Take Notice:: The minimum age for the first four days is 16, 14 after that. (blitz week)   All young folks, guys and gals are all welcome if you meet the age requirements.   Drag your parents along!

 Dinner on the Slab

The Slab

Dinner on the Slab

Click on any picture or HERE for Slide Show

Dinner on the slab means bring a covered dish, utinsels to serve the dish and your own chair.  Anyone that wants to come are welcome.   We invite the future homeowner and their family and friends. 

Cobb Habitat has already poured the concrete and it is hardened and ready to build, so all we have to do is clear out an area big enough to set up tables and chairs.   There was chicken, bar-b-que, various salads and deserts, water, tea and soft drinks.  Also a few well chosen wines (OK by Presbyterian standards).

For most of us, this is our first opportunity to meet the new homeowner and family.   Nicole is going to be a joy to work with.  Elijah is very bright, energetic, and inquiring, wants to know everything that is going on.  

Copies of Pictures

To get copies of any picture, click on the slide show and look above the slide show and you wiil find a link to the group of pictues (“back to Habitat 2008 set”).    Or click on any picture during the slide show and it will stop and allow you to select that picture (View Main Page).   When you see a picture you like and you have it in your sights, look for a link above for a button that says all sizes.  From there you can choose vearious sizes including a very large one.   When you have the size you want, you can click download for a free copy.  Copy as many as you want.    Or here is a  direct link to the set.  Click on any picture for a larger view and copy insturctions.  Enjoy

Oldtimer

 

 

 

Housewarming for Al

Housewarming! 

For Al !!

Al Jordan, our homeless veteran friend moved into veteran’s transitional housing on April 1, 2008.  He is still excited.   Pat Shankle of Georgia Home Staging with the help of husband Scott and friends staged his new apartment.  That means she selected the furnishings from the warehouse of MUST Ministries, added other stuff such as pictures, decorations, pillows, kitchen and dining room stuff and then professionally decorated the entire apartment – living room, bedroom, kitchen and dining room.   Pat does this for a living, normally staging houses for sale in order to make them more attractive, leading to quicker sale.   She also staged a home for our last Habitat homeowner, Joi.  Pat has said she is negotiating with MUST to stage a number of additional apartments as part of her homeless ministry.  Admire her work in the following pictures.

Als Apartment entry

Entry to Al’s new apartment.

Some of Als friends from our church gave him a housewarming dinner last night (April 3).   It was a great event for Al and his new housemate, Danny.  

Danny, Pat, Al

Danny McDaniel, Pat Shankle, Al Jordan

The food was catered by our Wednesday night dinner food experts.  It was GREAT eating.

Shrimp!  Chicken was also avialable

Shrimp!  Bacon and green beans.  Chicken was also available.  Desert consisted of ice cream with hot fudge.

Here are a few pictures of Als apartment taken while he gave us the grand tour:

Als Bedroom

Als Bedroom

Car tag

Prized car tag in window! for when he can afford a car.  Link to Macland Presbyterian

Bedroom

Another view of Al’s bedroom. 

Kitchen

Kitchen.  The fridge is opposite the stove.  Yes that is a coffee grinder in the far left corner and bags of Starbucks (gifts) on the shelf.

Dining room

Dining nook and lighting

Now to the gifts and people.  Al’s guests came with gifts ranging from DVD players to $50 gift cards and more than a few misty moments as Al opened them and read the cards.   Here are a few photos:

Ladies and Al

As ususal, all the ladies sat on one side of the room and the gents on the other.  And yes, Al is working with a hankie at the moment.

Cross

Admiring the Cross

Al with Pastor Ray Jones III

Our Pastor, Ray Jones III with Al. 

Towels

More gifts, in this case towels and other bathroom supplies

Scott Shankle

Pat’s husband Scott.

Jeff Staka

Jeff Straka.   You may remember him from our meeting with the Police Chief in an earlier blog.

I think we were all as pleased as Jeff appears to be in this photo with the outcome of our first venture into the homeless world.    Al and Danny seemed pleased too.   Although there are not many pictures of Danny here, he was not left out of the festivities and joined in our meal and prayers as well as shared in the joy of the moment for Al.

Danny and Al seem to be very comfortable house mates and will get along well together.  Danny, also a veteran in the program, has a car and has offered to drive Al to our Wednesday night dinner and to Church.  Looks like we have made a new friend there as well.  Danny’s is a different story where he once was married to the daughter of one of the biggest landowners in this area and now struggling to climb out of homelessness.

We also met a bear of a man, Jon who came in to check the refrigerator.  He is also a veteran, lives on the property and maintains/repairs anything that needs fixing.  This is a 20 unit complex entirely devoted to transitional housing for homeless veterans.   With two men to a unit, 40 veterans are served.  Jon said he is enrolled in the STEP program.   Nether Danny nor Al are enrolled in treatment programs, though they are required to find and keep jobs and eventually work their way out of the housing.

Part of the challange is this:  The entire complex is surrounded by woods habitated by other homeless men, somewhat envious of their neighbors.   The area is a high crime area including drugs.   Part of Jon’s job is to keep the area clear of anyone not residents of the complex.   It seems to be working.  I found the complex clean and nicely kept. 

I was well pleased with the housing situation.   This complex is funded by HUD and run by MUST ministries with grants from HUD.   Something just feels right about this situation.

Slide Show

Here is a slideshow with includes all of the pictures taken by me at the dinner, 47 in all.  Enjoy

Oldtimer

Report – Scientific Progress – Gulf War Illnesses

The full title of this report is “Scientific Progress Understanding Gulf War Illnesses:  Report and Recommendations“.

Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses
September, 2004 

This is an extensive report running 152 pdf pages.   The Executive Summary has these unsettling words:

In the years since the war, thousands of Gulf War veterans have been evaluated and treated by government and private physicians. But the federal research effort has not succeeded in identifying treatments that substantially improve the health of ill veterans.

Further, there are no programs in place to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments currently being used or to identify and develop treatments that may hold promise for these conditions.

(…) Many of the veterans who served in the Gulf War were exposed to a variety of potentially toxic substances during their  deployment.  Among these were several neurotoxins-chemical nerve agents, pills taken to protect veterans from the deadly effects of nerve agents, and multiple types of pesticides-that belong to a single class of compounds that adversely affect the nervous system.

Finding 1  A substantial proportion of Gulf War veterans are ill with multisymptom conditions not explained by wartime stress or psychiatric illness.  (…) 

Finding 2  Treatments that improve the health of veterans with Gulf War illnesses are urgently needed. (…)

Finding 3 A growing body of research indicates that an important component of Gulf War veterans’ illnesses is neurological in character. (…)

Finding 4 Evidence supports a probable link between exposure to neurotoxins and the development of Gulf War veterans’ illnesses. (…)

Finding 5  Other wartime exposures may also have contributed to Gulf War veterans’ illnesses. (…)

Finding 6  The health of Gulf veterans must be carefully monitored to determine if Gulf War service is associated with excess rates of specific diseases, disease-specific deaths, or overall mortality.(…)

Finding 7  Important questions concerning the health of children and other family members of Gulf War veterans remain unanswered. (…)

Finding 8  Progress in understanding Gulf War veterans’ illnesses has been hindered by lack of coordination and availability of data resources maintained by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  (…)

Finding 9  Research on Gulf War veterans’ illnesses has important implications for current and future military deployments and for homeland security.  (…)

Finding 10  Further progress in understanding and treating Gulf War veterans’ illnesses requires federal research programs that are properly focused, well-managed, and adequately funded.  (…)

Each of these findings are supported in detail with charts, data and supporting research documents that are organized by topic and by suspected causes.

Here are just a few of the tables and figures:

You can see from this figure that those in the Gulf war report 2 to 7 times as many symptoms as veterans not in the theatre.

Many of the symptoms are common among veterans that did not serve in the Gulf War as shown in the left side of this figure.  However, those veterans that were deployed in the Gulf are about 10 times as likely to report 3 to 6  types of symptoms from Table 1 than those not deployed.

The excess illness column on the far right was used in the study to show that the excess illness was consistent among particular units of deployed veterans vs non-deployed veterans from the same area of the country.  The ratio of deployed ill veterans was 2 to 4 times as high as those not deployed and even though they came from the same area as those that went to the Gulf .   For example those from Kansas that were deployed in the Gulf had 2.5 to 4 times as many multiple symptoms than those from Kansas that were not deployed.

This table is very alarming to me.   It shows that the deployed Gulf War veterans are developing Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) at a rate nearly 4 times higher than those veterans not deployed as they age to 55 and older.  ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, with less than 10 percent of patients surviving more than five years after initial diagnosis.

Possible effects of pesticides, PB (Pyridostigmine bromide pills used to pre-treat nerve gas exposure), and other AChEis (acetylcholinesterase inhibitors) chemicals used during the Gulf War.

Evidence in the literature is suggestive, but not conclusive, AChE inhibitors such as organophosphates and carbamates, could be among the potential contributing agents to some of the undiagnosed illnesses seen in Persian Gulf War veterans. -From: A Review of the Scientific Literature As It Pertains to Gulf War Illnesses–Volume 8: Pesticides48

This topic was extensively discussed and seems to be of significant concern to those conducting the study.   AChEis compounds are sometimes used for beneficial medications for Alzheimer’s Disease, but also to make pesticides and saran nerve gas.  

(…) these studies have consistently identified AChEis to be significantly associated with higher rates of symptoms and illnesses in Gulf War veterans. The uniformity of these results contrasts with a lack of consistent findings in multivariable analyses for such wartime experiences as participation in combat, exposure to oil fire smoke, and exposure to depleted uranium. Limitations in epidemiologic studies that rely on selfreported exposures always require a cautious interpretation of findings.

Taken as a whole, however, this accumulated body of research provides compelling evidence of a probable link between neurotoxic exposures in the Gulf War and the development of Gulf War veterans’ illnesses.

Pregnancies, micsarrages, birth defects: 

In 2001, a report from VA’s large National Survey of Gulf War-era Veterans and their Families indicated that Gulf War veterans reported a significantly greater number of post-war pregnancies that ended in miscarriages or children born with birth defects than nondeployed era veterans.

This table is very alarming to me.  It shows that the rate of birth defects for first live births for deployed veterans is two to 3 times as high as for those not deployed.   This applies to children of both male and female veterans.   Something is tragically wrong with this picture.

The above is only a brief overview of this subject.  Depleted Uranium is also a part of this study, but is largely discounted, but not thrown out.   If you are interested in the details, the report is remarkably readable and available at the link above or can be viewed or downloaded here.  This report is more than 3 years old.  It will be interesting to see how many of its recommendations have been followed.

What is so heartbreaking is that the rate of ALS among deployed Gulf War Veterans is higher at all age levels than Gulf War veterans not deployed, 3.5 times as high at ages above 55, birth defect rates are double, Gulf War Veterans are 3 to 4 times as likely to be ill with these symptoms. Yet the funding is dismal, only about $31 million average a year through 2004.

That is about $32.00 per deployed Gulf War veteran a year research funding.    Hmm, 88 cents a day per veteran – about the cost of a single plain doughnut.

Equivalent Funding for Gulf War Illnesses

(photo courtesy of roboppy who posted as creative commons)

(all the others are copied from the cited report)

The veterans deserve significantly more research, deserve the best possible treatment and deserve adequate compensation to offset their illnesses. They are all heroes to me.

Oldtimer

Wounded warriors battle with VA – Story and Videos

Wounded Warriors Battle With VA

I watched a horrifying story on CNN last night.  I missed it on regular programming, checked the programming guide and waited for the midnight repeat.   The CNN title of the story was:

Broken Government: Waging War on the VA

It repeats tonight, Sunday night (Nov 18) at 8 Eastern, so if you get a chance, please check your schedule.   It is a powerful indictment of the VA’s handling of disability claims.  It is the story of 3 wounded veterans trying to get justice and only able to do it by virtually going to war again to fight for their rights.

One of the wounded warriors and a really heartbreaking story was Ty Ziegel, 25 years old who had been severely injured by a suicide bomber, “sent back to the states to die”, but lived.  Despite losing nearly half of his skull and a large portion of his brain, penetrating shrapnel and bone fragments in his brain, with both ears, nose and lips burned off and impossible to replace,  loss of an eye and resulting enormous disfiguration, the VA listed him as having “10% head trauma”.  10% head trauma.  In addition the damage to the left lobe of his brain,  loss of an eye and jaw fracture as haveing 0% trauma.  0% for loss of 1/4 of his brain, loss of an eye? He also lost one arm at the elbow, and two fingers and a thumb from his other hand, plus numerous other injuries for which the bulk of his small disability payment was granted.    Far below the poverty line disability for a man disfigured and totally disabled.

Ty Ziegel before and after

Ty Ziegel, before and after.   CNN News photo

(Click on the picture or here to see the video).  These videos are short promo clips about 2 minutes long and I don’t know how long they will keep them up on their site.  Go to  CNN and see the real thing.  Click here for part 2

Another veteran, Garrett Anderson received a roadside bomb injury that sent shrapanel into his head and body, and he lost an arm while driving a truck in a convoy.  The VA initially rejected his claim, saying that it was “not service connected”.   He was also suffering from what he thought was PTSD.  In Garrett’s case the letter stating that there were “shrapnel wounds all over his body, not service connected” had the signature cut out of the letter with a knife.  Apparently the signer was not proud of his decision and knew it was wrong.  

Garrett Anderson

Garrett Anderson.  Click on the picture or here for the video clip.

In Ziegel’s case, within 48 hours of taping an interview with CNN, the VA changed his disability to 100%.  In Anderson’s case, his wife took a sneak peak at his case file while a nurse was out of he room and she discovered they had  him listed in their files a suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), but had failed to tell him or give him any disability credit for it.   He went to Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois who turned up the pressure on the VA and subsequently has been awarded disability for TBI.

The third story was about Tammy Duckworth who lost both legs and had severe injuries to one arm and her body.   She later ran for Congress with the hope of improving things for disabled veterans.  She lost but has been appointed by the Governor of Illinois to be the Director of the IL Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Click here for the CNN news promo clip for her story.  Go to the link with Tammy’s name above and click on “veteran’s issues” to get a flavor of what she has learned about the Va while she was in their care and her run for Congress.

Our wounded warriors, our heroes, should not have to fight for our country, then fight for their life and still have to fight for their benefits!

Oldtimer

 

A Few Street Kids

Wikipedia defines “street children” this way:

Street children or street urchins are homeless children who live on the street – in particular, those that are not taken care of by parents or other adults. Street children live in abandoned buildings, containers, automobiles, parks, or on the street itself.

That is in contrast to children that are homeless that are living in shelters or taking refuge with friends or relatives.    Below are a few pictures of street kids taken by various photographers around this country who have posted them under a creative commons license.

Market Street, San Francisco

Photo complements of davitydave Photo taken on Market Street, San Francisco.  Creative Commons License   Find it Here

Haight Street San Francisco

Photo Complements of kristiewells Photo taken on Haight Street San Francisco.  Creative Commons License   Find it Here

kristiewells says this about the photo: “We gave them our leftovers from Pork Store Cafe. I asked if I could take their picture which they said was OK, but they were so happy to be eating, I didn’t want to disturb them to get a better photo. ”

Homeless in Austin Texas
Photo Courtesy of  dground Photo taken on Sixth Street in Austin Texas Creative Commons License  Find it Here

Homeless in Minnesota

Photo from The Epoch Times, Minnesota

They had this to say about the picture and runaway kids:

According to a recent statewide survey of homeless people in Minnesota, conducted by the Wilder Research Center, for most youths, going back to live with their parents is not a viable solution. Their homeless plight started as a result of their parents. Fearing their chemically dependent or physically or sexual abusive parents, many youths would rather endure the life on the streets than return home. Many have already lived in foster care, detention or treatment centers.

Dave Eha, a 21-year-old homeless youth for the last six months said, “For many out here, it isn’t like a choice. You would hear all the time how someone was molested or physically abused. Many of the kids are forced to become homeless or else live in an abusive situation.”

The Wilder Research report found that homeless kids were:

Five times more likely to have been treated for alcohol or drug problems, although homeless youths are half as likely to report current use of alcohol.

More than three times more likely to have been hit by a date or intimate partner.

Three times more likely to have been physically abused

For girls, 20 times more likely to have been pregnant; for boys 10 times more likely to have had a sexual relationship that resulted in pregnancy.

Youth of color are three to four times more prevalent among the homeless.

Come ON folks, these could have been your kids.

Find a way to help.

Oldtimer

Homeless Youth Project

Homeless Youth Project 

Early on in this blog I wrote a number of articles on homeless youth,  but lately I have written mostly about homeless veterans and also PTSD among veterans.   All of these areas are under-served.   If you do a tag click on “homeless youth”, you will find that despite not having written anything on our youth since August 7th, 27 of the 28 posts that are brought up by WordPress were written by me.   No one seems to care about our youth and few about our homeless veterans.   Well, I care.

I’ve noticed a lot of visitors lately looking at my earlier posts on homeless youth and realized that I’ve been neglecting that area.   I’ve written 32 posts on homeless youth and 72 on homeless veterans, but nothing on the youth lately.   I’ll try to keep this more balanced.  If anyone else wants to jump in and blog about either subject you will be most welcome, since the object here is to shine as much light as possible so someone somewhere with a little clout will put up some muscle and really help.

Homeless Youth  

Photo by Mike Brodie, see link below

Below is an interesting video, actually a slide show set to music and above is a shot from that video taken off of the photographer’s website.  I don’t know whether the person that put it in slide show (realstraycat)  with music is associated with the photographer or not, but I recognized the pictures immediately.  The photographer is a homeless youth himself, having taken most of these pictures with a beat-up old Polaroid camera made in the 1970s.   Simply amazing photos though.

Mike Brodie, the Polaroid Kidd, photographed these pictures which are part of a touring exhibition – “Brodie left home at 18 to travel the rails across America, and found himself spending three years photographing the friends and companions he encountered with a Polaroid SX-70 camera.

“Photography has made me what I am. It pulls me in all directions. It gives and takes friends, and pushes me to move miles and miles. My desire to photograph these people in the beginning is what led me to develop such great relationships with them; some being relationships that will last clear on ’til the day I die. I’m really lucky ’cause I never used to be this social.”

Brodie’s pictures are authentic and show the beauty of some of America’s most overlooked people. These are images captured by a member of the tribe and through a sympathetic lens.” 

The music in the video is moody and sad, as it should be.  The pictures are captivating, nothing risque, but telling the truth:  There is nothing glamorous about being a homeless kid or homeless young adult.  Moments of fun maybe, but mostly misery and danger – always danger. Freedom to eat what you can find, sleep where you dare, fight for your coat and shoes, and hope that somehow you will survive long enough to grow up. 

Traveling together is a form of protection from sexual predators and other gangs, an almost communal way to share needs, food, clothes, survival, and a way to share street smarts that were learned the much too hard way.

realstraycat

Here is a link to some of Mike Brodie’s still photos if you want to see them in all their glory.   Street kids, mostly traveling on the railroad, panhandling on the streets or hanging out in makeshift shacks in the woods.   Beautiful and telling photography.  My Polaroids never looked like these.

Here are some links you may be interested in:

 Homeless Youth – Some Random Facts that May Scare You

Homelessness Among Children and Youth – Basic Facts 

How many of the Homeless are Youth?

Link to all Homeless Youth Articles by Oldtimer

Oldtimer

Homeless Youth

Veterans Benefits Administration Work Load Score Card

Veterans Benefits Administration Score Card

 VA Score Card Cases

As of Saturday, November 3, 2007

The VBA keeps a running Monday morning workload  scorecard which you can download, print or review.   The card reflects data only 2 days old.  Here is what they say about it:

The Monday Morning Reports are a compilation of work load indicators reported by Veterans Benefits Administration field offices. VBA’s Office of Performance Analysis and Integrity is responsible for compiling these spreadsheets. Questions or comments should be e-mailed to VBA’s Office of Field Operations, which is responsible for regional office management.

The Regional Offices are clustered according to organizational groupings called Areas. There are four Areas within the VBA field structure: Eastern, Southern, Central and Western. Reports are in Excel. You may download free viewer software to view the reports.

You can access their site with this link to the VBA Scorecard Index.  It has weekly lists for their workload every Monday from the current week all the way back to 1999!

The Scorecard shows cases pending for every city with a VBA field office in the US.    It also shows how many cases are over 6 months old. 

VA Score Card Cases

For example, on November 3, 2007, there were 404,561 rated cases pending of which 102,267 were older than 6 months (25.3%) and 178,267 non-rating cases of which 51,261 were older than 6 months( 28.8%).  The rated cases pending were about 6,000 more than this time last year.

The chart extends downward for all the field offices a total of 64 lines below those shown here. 

The field office with the biggest backlog was in Houston with more than 19,000 cases and 30.9% backlog.  A few examples of  the worst percentage backlogs ranged from Detroit (38.4% rated, 49.2% non-rated), Jackson Miss (42.2% rated), Houston (30.9/34.8%), LA (30.6/29.0%) just to pick some busy places in each part of the country.

VA Score Card Claims

 The total Compensation and Pension (C&P) cases in the Work in Progress system ( WIPP)  was  647,479 of which 170,355 were over 6 months old.  Other information you may be interested in is

VA Score Card Appeals

All of this data is available on a week-to-week basis for each field office in the country.  It may be useful to look at your field office to see where you stand and how they are doing – otherwise, it is just numbers on their scorecard.

I hope this access link is useful to someone.  Click on any chart to get an update.  It is truly amazing how many veterans are being held up for treatment by this terrible backlog. 

6 Months and Waiting

Give Me a Break,

These are Our Heroes

 

(Score Card?  I give them an F)

 

Oldtimer

Video – The Soldier’s Heart – PTSD a Frontline Video Series

The Soldier’s Heart is a 60 minute PBS “Frontline” video series in four parts.  It is available for viewing online here on the PBS Frontline web site.

“Soldier’s heart”  or “nostalgia” are the names given for PTSD after the Cival War.  Later from various wars it became “shell shock”,”battle fatigue”, Post Vietnam Syndrome” and now commonly diagnosed as Post-Tramutic Stress Disorder or PTSD for Combat Trauma and there is a just-as-damaging subset called Military Sexual Trauma or MST. 

Click on the link above for the full introduction and production information from the PBS Frontline Series.    Click on any of the pictures below to watch any of the 4 segments of the video.  Each is 15 minutes long.  Visit the PBS site anyway to get insight and background.  It is interesting and informative reading.   If you have low speed internet, you will need to go to the PBS site link above.  The links below are all high-speed links.

PBS Frontline Homecoming

Homecoming
For three returning Iraq war veterans, it’s when they got home that the feelings, images, smells and nightmares of war began haunting them

The Impact of Combat

The Psychological Impact of Combat
Decades of records have tracked the psychological toll of war on those who fight it. Today, what happens to a soldier who admits to emotional distress and asks for help?

Needing Help

Needing Help
One young Marine, in a downward spiral, keeps his torment and pain bottled up. Another, showing symptoms of PTSD, joins a Camp Pendleton support group.

Need for Change

A Need for Change
A young Marine takes his own life. In January 2005, the military announces plans for better mental health screening of returning vets. Will it be enough?

This series from Frontline is astounding.  If you have not seen it before, please take the time to look at it now.  Visit them here for program notes, insights, background. and links to other videos and excellent programming.

Honor Our Troops

Honor Our Veterans

Help our Homeless Veterans

 

They Are All Heroes!

Oldtimer

Veteran’s Day – November 11, 2007

Veterans Day  

  November 11, 2007 

Veteran's Day Poster

Remember and Honor our Heroes!

For they are Heroes Forever

 

 

 

Click Here for More Information on Veterans

Want your own posters for Veterans Day?  Download and print them free.

PTSD vet ‘chooses’ homelessness

PTSD vet ‘chooses’ homelessness

I found this in the Air Force Times

By Brandon Stahl – The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Oct 16, 2007 11:03:14 EDT

DULUTH, Minn. – A bowl of corn flakes and room-temperature milk sits in front of Kevan Boman, 52, at a table in the Duluth Union Gospel Mission. His eyes flip down for a second, his lips purse and twist into a slight frown – just another reminder of what his life has become.

“This is breakfast,” he says as his eyes shift up to the acrid cafeteria, not wanting any of the other sad, tired faces of destitute and homeless people to get too close to him. As he eats, he reminisces about what his life once was. He was a military man for 27 years, a veteran of two wars who retired as a decorated officer. He was a nurse, a proud husband and father of three daughters, once so wealthy that he donated thousands of dollars to the very soup kitchens where he now eats.

Now, he lives in a car. It was other cars, before those were stolen or repossessed. In between were unlocked garages, tool sheds and apartment building basements, gas station bathrooms, drug houses or the couches of his daughters’ homes. Before all that, before he had to sneak into hospital and gas station bathrooms to bathe and groom himself, before the drugs and the suicide attempts, it was a three-bedroom, two-bath, two-car-garage home in a tree-lined Duluth neighborhood with his family.

That was his life three years ago, before his mind was overwhelmed by the guilt and shame from post-traumatic stress disorder, and he walked out on it all.

Since then, he has lived on the streets, but it doesn’t have to be that way. He could take his military disability checks for a tax-free $4,400 a month, get an apartment and start his life over. But he won’t. He says he would rather give his money away, to his kids, to friends, to just about anyone who asks for it. He says he would rather punish himself.

“I haven’t made peace with myself,” he says, pausing for a moment as his eyes drop again, disappointment stretching across his face. “This is my penance. I don’t let God forgive me. I don’t know why I do this. I have to.”

On any given night, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are about 200,000 homeless veterans across the country, and about 400,000 veterans experience homelessness over the course of a year. About 97 percent of them are men, and they account for 23 percent of the total homeless population. 

(Oldtimer’s Note:  Actually male veterans make up 43 percent of the male homeless but only 27% of the male population!)

There’s no easy answer to why there are so many homeless veterans, though 45 percent suffer from mental health problems and substance abuse.

“Some people develop alcohol abuse or dependence as they try to treat themselves,” said Dr. Ira Katz, VA’s national chief consultant for mental health. “Then the two conditions together can lead to difficulties with work and social relationships that could lead, in turn, to unemployment, separation or divorce, and homelessness.”

Still, he said, it seems almost like an alien concept to him to suggest someone would choose to be homeless.

“I’m not sure that homelessness is a choice,” Katz said. Instead, he suggests that a situation like Boman’s may be a complication of PTSD.

“People think they are making a choice,” said Phil Ringstrom, a counselor at the Duluth Vet Center. “If they could flip a switch to make themselves better, they’d flip the switch. They’re not choosing this. They’re enduring.”

So it’s debatable as to whether Boman chooses to live in his car.

(this is a long article and I encourage you to read the rest of this story at the link above)

Oldtimer’s comment: Kevan Boman is not alone out there.  PTSD is a common ailment for those who have been in combat, often also for women veterans who have been abused in the service.   See this article for more on PTSD – PTSD – Some Help for Veterans – information fact sheet to help recognize the symptoms, and includes other useful information.

Oldtimer

Homeless in Nashville

Homeless in Nashville

Imagine being homeless and the weather is turning cold.  You are hungry, broke, nearly broken, and have no place to hide.  There are predators on the street that will beat you or worse if they come across you… no place to hide.  You find a grate in the sidewalk, it is somewhat warm, but very exposed and close to the traffic but you lie down… no place to hide.

Traffic noises assault you with squeals, honks and roaring engines, but you are so very very tired and so you sleep… no place to hide.  Along comes a cop car and the officer  hits the siren, again and again and again until you finally realize he is sounding it for you and so you rise up to leave, and still no place to hide.

Such is the life of the homeless in Nashville and countless other places.

Oldtimer

Legion Plans Rooms For Homeless Vets

Legion Plans Rooms For Homeless Vets

By Megan Bard

Published on 10/21/2007

Griswold (Connecticut) – Hoping to fill a need, the American Legion Post 15 is proposing to create apartments above its South Main Street hall for homeless veterans.

Post member William J. Czmyr Jr. said the organization has worked diligently over the last year planning the project. Over the summer, the post successfully obtained approval from the town’s zoning board and planning commission to construct the one-bedroom units.

The next step is to meet with the membership by early December to update the group on the project and then determine how to obtain the money needed to complete the work through grants or fundraising efforts. The project’s cost was not available last week.

“We hear a lot about veterans needing a place. The shelters are always full. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do,” Czmyr said.

Although criteria to rent the apartments has not yet been established, Czmyr said he expects that any person who has served in the military and can prove service with discharge papers will be welcome, regardless of gender or age.

“We’re not looking for too many specifics, just that he or she is a veteran and doesn’t have a place to live,” Czmyr said.

While living in the building, the veterans will have better access to services provided by the legion and the Veterans Administration, Czmyr said.

When the post moved to the South Main Street location in 1972, apartments were already on the upper floors. Since then, the space has been transformed into a gym or used for storage.

The project will require the building’s façade to be overhauled and the total renovation of its interior. Now three stories, when complete it will have four floors. Czmyr said the ceiling in the gym area is tall enough so that another floor can be built.

In addition to the apartments, the basement will be updated, a new heating system will be installed and additional storage space will be created.

For more information about Post 15 or to donate to its project, call (860) 376-0238.

Oldtimer’s Comment: OK now here is something all the many thousands of American Leagon Posts can do.  Help our Homeless Heroes!   Build shelters into your existing facilities.   In this case the fund-raising may benefit the post in several other ways.  Improved facade, updated basement, new heating system, and additional storage space.   All this works for me if we can get our homeless heroes off the streets.

If you are a veteran and want to know where the nearest post is located, here is a link to the location of every Ameican Leagon post in the US by state.   Call them and ask what they are doing for homeless veterans.   Ask if they can help you.  Let me know what you found out.

I have contacted the national American Leagon  Economics office (according to them this is the site that handles homeless issues) and asked them for various information on homeless issues.  We will see what I can find out.  If you are homeless or a concerned citizen or veteran, you may contact the American Leagon’s various offices at this link to their email system.   If enough concerned Americans write, money may eventually be shifted to help our homeless heroes.

Oldtimer

Complaint alleges surgical incompetance for VA Surgeon

Complaint filed in VA surgery case

Read the full story here

MURRAY, Ky. — A woman whose husband died after gallbladder surgery at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Southern Illinois said she has filed an administrative complaint with the agency after learning her husband’s doctor resigned.

Bob Shank, 50, of Murray died Aug. 10, a day after undergoing surgery at the Marion Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“It’s still unbelievable to me,’’ said Katrina Shank, whose complaint alleges surgical incompetence caused her husband’s death. “I sit and I look at his picture and I talk to him every night, but it’s just not the same. I tell him that I love him and I miss him and that I know he’s probably in heaven and already knows all this stuff.’’

Shank’s surgeon, Dr. Jose Veizaga-Mendez, resigned from the hospital last month, shortly before the hospital suspended inpatient surgeries because of a spike in post-surgical deaths. Veizaga-Mendez was prohibited from practicing in Massachusetts last year after being accused of “grossly’’ substandard care, according to a report this week in the Chicago Tribune.

(Note:  See outline of Massachusetts cases below as found by Oldtimer)

“I don’t know why they even allowed him in the operating room,’’ Shank said.

The hospital, which treats veterans from Southern Illinois, southwestern Indiana and western Kentucky, has reassigned or placed on leave four officials at the hospital, including the chief of surgery. Patients requiring surgery are being referred to nearby hospitals, according to a statement Friday by the VA’s Washington, D.C., office.

“The VA is also reviewing these surgical cases to identify cases in which surgical patients may have received care that was not consistent with standards and to determine whether that care may have led to complication or death,’’ the statement said.

Our Heroes don’t deserve surgeons prohibited from practice elsewhere!!!!

   Who is minding the store? 

Massachusetts Cases:

(as found at VA Watchdog.org and also found here Chicago Tribune)

Surgeon left trail of fatal errors

Doctor in Downstate death was barred in Massachusetts

| Tribune staff reporter

A review of malpractice suits against Veizaga-Mendez and of cases investigated by Massachusetts authorities paints a disturbing picture of a surgeon who repeatedly made life-threatening errors but still was allowed to operate.A May 2006 report by a peer reviewer spelled out in chilling detail surgical mistakes, errors in judgment, and delays in diagnosis and treatment.Reviewing the case of a 58-year-old man who died after undergoing a procedure to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease, the report concluded “the standard of care was grossly unmet in this case.”

It found that a surgical error committed by Veizaga-Mendez caused a stitch to dislodge and leak fluid from the man’s esophagus, resulting in a massive blood infection and respiratory failure. The patient died six weeks later.

 “This case is remarkable for multiple errors,” the report said.

The family of that patient, Jeronimo Coronado, sued Veizaga-Mendez in a Massachusetts district court in 2003. A settlement was reached before the case went to trial.

“I have been doing this work for 26 years and he is among the very worst that I have ever run into,” said Rhode Island malpractice attorney Bennett J. Bergman, who represented the family. “Sometimes doctors are careless and make errors, but in my opinion this went way beyond that. I felt the man was dangerous.”

In a case not included in the state authorities’ report, a jury awarded $652,000 to a Massachusetts man and his wife after Veizaga-Mendez placed two sutures from a hernia repair directly into his bladder. For almost four years, the man “suffered from blood in his urine, knee-buckling pain every time he moved his bowels or urinated, and couldn’t work or have relations with his wife,” said Byron Taylor, the Massachusetts attorney who represented him.

Other errors noted in the state report include misdiagnoses that led to the wrong surgical procedure being performed, prolonged delays in diagnosing post-surgical complications and the use of improper surgical methods.Patients were described as requiring lengthy hospitalizations, unnecessary surgeries and prolonged pain. Some faced the possibility of future surgeries that should have been unnecessary.

In one case, Veizaga-Mendez had planned to treat and discharge a critically ill patient instead of performing surgery. After another physician intervened, Veizaga-Mendez operated, but his errors led to fever, blood infection, pneumonia and a heart attack, according to the investigator.

The report on the seven cases concluded: “I find that the most significant and repeating issue of the involved surgeon is a lack of judgment. … Many of these complications could have been avoided by sound judgment and adherence to surgical fundamentals. … This should be addressed to prevent injuries to future patients.”
Air Force veteran Robert Shank, 50, was unaware of his surgeon’s troubling past as he waited on the operating table at the VA in Marion last month. His mind, his wife said, was focused on hunting and fishing and spending time with his six children and four grandchildren.“We told each other we loved each other. It was just like any day,” a sobbing Katrina Shank recalled.

“It was supposed to be so simple.

All these cases and the VA says “keep on going –  Only the best for our Heroes!”

Oldtimer