Category Archives: Member Blog

MFSO Member’s Concerns about Pathway Home Began Long Before Shooting

My son was featured in a story done about Pathway Home in the Mercury News on 2/10/2011.  My son was an inpatient at Pathway Home and at that time the founder and director was Fred Gusman.   I started having concerns about the program and contacted them and requested to talk to Fred Gusman.   He never returned my calls or e-mails.  I was so concerned that I was going to drive from Southern California to Napa to talk to them in person and my son convinced me he could handle it.

My son had completed an actual VA PTSD treatment program in 2008 at Palo Alto VA hospital and it was an EXCELLENT PROGRAM and saved my son’s life.   He started having problems again and we learned about Pathway Home and he entered their program in 2011.   My first concerns about Pathway Home was I found out they were having financial problems.  Since they didn’t have an instructor for their PTSD class, they were having my son teach the class since he had completed the Palo Alto PTSD Program.   I told my son that you’re there as a patient not a paid instructor.  My son’s life was also being threatened by his roommate and Pathway Home wasn’t doing anything to protect my son.   That is when I tried to contact the director and he never returned my calls or e-mails.   I was also contacted by a reporter doing a story on Pathway Home and I told him I had some concerns, but at that time there were so few programs out their that any program is better than none.   Pathway Homes was doing a lot of media at that time to promote their program and to get donations.  That is probably why Mercury News did the story on Pathway Home in 2011.  I was concerned that they were more focused on funding and not on the treatment of PTSD.

I know Pathway Home closed in 2015 due to financial problems and Fred Gusman left.   Then a new board was formed and it was opened again in 2016 or 2017.

When I heard about the shooting my heart stopped.   I don’t know how the current Pathway Homes is being managed, but my concern is what are they doing with problem patients such as Veteran Albert Wong.   When a problem patient is released from the program are they being offered alternate care or other resources?   What was done to prevent a Veteran with PTSD from returning as Albert Wong did and killing these innocent women and protecting other patients and staff?   What are they doing to make sure we don’t have another Albert Wong in the future?  As families dealing with loved ones with PTSD, we need to know!  

As a father of a disabled Iraq Veteran that has been dealing as a family with our son’s PTSD since 2006.   I want to make sure that these programs are doing all they can to help prevent and protect the Veteran, the staff and other patients from what happened at Pathway Home this week.

I have been a member of Military Families Speak Out since 2006 and with other members of our group that have lost their loved ones to suicide and like my family trying to keep our son healthy and alive as he suffers from PTSD.   We tell our stories and are a voice for our loved ones making sure that their problems with PTSD is being taken care of by the VA, DOD and other programs like Pathway Homes.

From a Mom on Veterans Day

Tomorrow is Veterans Day and many thoughts are racing through my mind. You’d think after having a son in the military for over 20 years and he being currently deployed to the Persian Gulf  (and that’s after five previous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan),  that I would be a little jaded right now about Veterans Day. In some ways I am. Military families are worn out from 16 years of war.

We currently have over 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, and who knows how many in Iraq/Syria today.  I’ve seen data stating between Iraq, Syria and Kuwait, we could have over 12,000 troops.  As Secretary Mattis adds even more troops to the African continent, I try to contain my thoughts that wonder what is the real threat to the U.S. from Africa? I try to contain control these thoughts because our troops are stationed in too many places right now and for way too long. I just can’t wrap my head around that right now.

Just last month, Iraq’s government was debating whether or not they should ask the US to stay- update pending on that. A civil war between Kurds and Iraq’s central government is escalating, partially due to a new law that limits who can export oil, (businesses hold a monopoly on oil and the government could stop the oil flow in northern Iraq that is under Kurdish control).

Yes, something more frightening is brewing on the horizon and we all know it. The topic of nuclear war with Korea is tossed about like a bargaining chip and it scares the hell out of all of us- no one more than military families. Not even our troops are as scared as we are. We have the benefit of the long view.  We already witnessed the tragic crumbling of any diplomatic efforts after 9-11 and suffered though unspeakable losses and destruction when President Bush concocted a war in Iraq and Afghanistan and locked us into endless war. Now any diplomatic efforts are in the hands of an even a greater war monger. Even if the president’s own appointed Secretary of State dares to tone down President Trump’s dangerous and threatening language, President Trump is quick to undercut him in a moment of rage. So we feel the déjà vu.  Military families know the stench of impending war like no one else.

Hopefully, my son will be home soon. I pray that this will be his last deployment and for that wonderful day when all of our loved ones will return home for good.  I know I am luckier than so many of my Gold Star brothers and sisters. I also know the outcome won’t be a simple welcome home and we’re all good now. After after, all we do live in the Los Angeles area, the home of the largest homeless veteran population in the nation and there’s no getting away from the nightmarish fact that 21 veterans die by suicide daily and one active duty service member every day.  It’s always on my mind, but I just want him home now.

Back to Veteran’s Day. I am pestered by my inner voice of reason that keeps asking me, “Why we celebrate Veterans Day anyway?  Why was it changed from Armistice Day in 1952- a day celebrating peace and the end of World War I?”  Everyone says it’s to honor all veterans instead of just veterans from that era and theater. I’m having serious trouble with that rationale as I begrudgingly get ready to march in our local Veterans Day Parade . There’s going to be a whole lot of glorifying of war, and kids under 12 will be twirling fake rifles like batons. And oh, yeah, funnel cake.

 

Next year will mark the 100th year of Armistice Day. Let’s try to remember all of our loved ones on this day and that they are still fighting in a war that never should have happened in the first place. Let’s remember their needs are many, but we as a nation cannot give them our full attention that could help them heal until all of them are home safe and we are not creating more veterans in need of our care. So let’s take a moment tomorrow and consider how we can really help our veterans. Let’s bring them home now.

Veterans For Peace has a good article on Armistice Day at https://www.veteransforpeace.org/take-action/armistice-day/

Pat Alviso

Military Families Speak Out-Mom

Afghanistan: The Forgotten War

By Mary Hladky, Military Families Speak Out

October 5, 2017 — Watching the PBS series on Vietnam is a graphic reminder of the horrors of war.  Unfortunately, one of the few things the U.S. government learned from Vietnam was how to hide the horrors of the Afghanistan war from public view as much as possible, to prevent the backlash experienced during the Vietnam war.  No body counts, no reporters roaming free, only embedded journalists, minimal media coverage with little footage of the actual war, and no pictures of coffins returning home.

The Trump Administration has decided to continue to support the war in Afghanistan, only with more troops and no stated end game.  As this war completes its 16th year, on October 7, more troops are on their way to Afghanistan.  The suffering of our troops, their families and the Afghan people will continue.

Afghanistan is the forgotten war, even though it is currently the United States’ largest military foreign engagement, with 16,000+ troops and tens of thousands of defense and agency contractors.
The only people who benefit from this war are the military contractors and the corrupt Afghan government, made up of many drug and war lords guilty of human rights abuses and war crimes.  The Afghan government and Taliban controls, protects, and benefits from the enormous poppy crop that supplies over 90% of the world’s heroin.  SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction) reports that reconstruction in Afghanistan is nearly nonexistent after spending $100 billion.

The Afghan government, which the U.S. has propped up with billions of dollars and thousands of American livesremains overwhelmingly corrupt, a government the Afghan people will never accept.
In the meantime, the Taliban has grown in numbers and holds more territory than ever before, 40-50% of the country.

The human costs of war for our troops, the Afghan forces and civilians has been enormous.  Death, injuries and nearly a trillion dollars have been wasted for no redeemable benefit.  Yet instead of pursuing peace, our government continues to opt for more war.
Americans need to take a stand against the Afghanistan war.  We need to reflect on what it is that we believe – ask yourself two basic questions:

How, as Americans, do we continually accept sending young men and women to risk their lives for a futile, never ending war?
What would you say to a mother who loses her son or daughter in Afghanistan?  Can you explain what her child actually died for?  What was the noble cause?

It’s up to everyone one of us who are uncomfortable with the answers to these questions, to demand an end to the Afghanistan War.      

Take Out Your iPhone!

Take Out Your iPhone!

By Paula Rogovin, MFSO, Bergen County NJ

When I spoke at the Cranford, NJ Peace Fair on August 6, I started by telling about my distress during my son’s two deployments to Iraq, my friend, John Fenton’s, distress when he watched his son’s head shrink before he died in the hospital after being struck by an IED in Iraq, my friends, Kevin and Joyce Lucey’ distress when their son, Jeffrey, hung himself after he was told to return to the VA for help after he dealt with his alcohol abuse, and my friend, Marcia Westbrook’s distress, when she received the call that her son in the Special Forces, Tyler, had died by suicide.

I asked people in the crowd, “Why did the U.S. intervene in Iraq?” People shouted, “Oil!” Then I asked people to take out their iphones and hold them up high. So, why is the U.S. involved in Afghanistan and why is President Trump considering sending 3,000-5,000 additional troops to Afghanistan? Several people shouted, “Minerals!” This was a Peace Fair and many of the people read recent articles in the news. Yup, President Trump is concerned that we hadn’t really secured the oil contracts in Iraq and the mineral rights in Afghanistan during the time of Cheney/Bush. Now, he’s talking about securing the mineral contracts in Afghanistan.

If you read excerpts from the articles below, you will see that there is lots of lithium – which used in iPhones and other devices. We know that it’s not OUR oil or OUR minerals. To sacrifice the lives and well-being of U.S. service members and their families for profit, for greed, is totally unacceptable!

I told the crowd at the Cranford Peace Fair that Military Families Speak Out says: NO military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan! Bring the troops home NOW!

The crowd agreed and shouted: Bring the troops home NOW!

Trump Finds Reason for the U.S. to Remain in Afghanistan: Minerals (New York Times). (By MARK LANDLER and JAMES RISENJULY 25, 2017
“The lure of Afghanistan as a war-torn Klondike is well established: In 2006, the George W. Bush administration conducted aerial surveys of the country to map its mineral resources. Under President Barack Obama, the Pentagon set up a task force to try to build a mining industry in Afghanistan — a challenge that was stymied by rampant corruption, as well as security problems and the lack of roads, bridges or railroads.

None of these hurdles has been removed in the last eight years, according to former officials, and some have worsened. They warn that the Trump administration is fooling itself if it believes that extracting minerals is a panacea for Afghanistan’s myriad ills…..

But for Mr. Trump, as a businessman, it is arguably the only appealing thing about Afghanistan. Officials said he viewed mining as a “win-win” that could boost that country’s economy, generate jobs for Americans and give the United States a valuable new beachhead in the market for rare-earth minerals, which has been all but monopolized by China….. Mr. Silver, the chemical executive, may head an effort to maximize the rights for American companies to extract these minerals, according to a senior official.”

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, March 25, 2017
“Here is part of the list: “gold, copper, lithium,uranium, iron ore, cobalt, natural gas and oil. Afghanistan’s resources could make it one of the richest mining regions in the world.

According to a joint report by the Pentagon, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and USAID, Afghanistan is now said to possess “previously unknown” and untapped mineral reserves, estimated authoritatively to be of the order of one trillion dollars (New York Times, U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, See also BBC, 14 June 2010).
“The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys…..

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said… “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines. (New York Times, op. cit.)
Afghanistan could become, according to The New York Times “the Saudi Arabia of lithium”. “Lithium is an increasingly vital resource, used in batteries for everything from mobile phones to laptops and key to the future of the electric car.” At present Chile, Australia, China and Argentina are the main suppliers of lithium to the world market. Bolivia and Chile are the countries with the largest known reserves of lithium. “The Pentagon has been conducting ground surveys in western Afghanistan. “Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large as those of Bolivia” (U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, see also Lithium – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)