Homeless Veteran Timelapse Transformation

 

From the creators of the video:

We are in no way saying that this is the finish line for Jim. This is just the first corner turned. We’d be crazy to think a makeover video would undo decades of poverty and addiction.

But it could be the start of something, and we’re working hard to help walk him down this path. For everyone else, we hope to give a hesitation to those that we tune out, a reminder of the potential that even our most down and out citizens will always carry with them.


Attorney General: Military will grant all benefits to spouses of gay military

The Department of Justice will not enforce Title 38, a law barring gay veterans from spousal benefits, the Washington Blade reports:

In a letter dated Sept. 4, U.S. Attorney Eric Holder notifies U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) of the change in the way the Justice Department will enforce Title 38 of the U.S. code.

“[I]n light of subsequent developments and my recommendation, the President has directed the Executive Branch to cease enforcement of Sections 101(3) and 101(31) of Title 38,” Holder writes. “Decisions by the Executive Branch not to enforce federal laws are appropriately rare. Nonetheless, for the reasons described below, the unique circumstances here warrant non-enforcement.”

From the White House via press release:

The language, contained within Title 38 of the U.S. Code, has, until now, prevented the Executive Branch from providing spousal benefits to veterans—and in some instances active-duty service members and reservists—who are in same-sex marriages recognized under state law.

In a letter to Congressional leaders, Holder stated that the President’s decision was consistent with the Court’s decision in Windsor in June.

“Although the Supreme Court did not directly address the constitutionality of the Title 38 provisions in Windsor, the reasoning of the opinion strongly supports the conclusion that those provisions are unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment,” Holder wrote.

(via Towleroad)

“I feel no more pain” – A Soldier’s Last Words

We have to do better for our veterans. The debt can never be repaid, but we as a country can sure try harder.

Daniel Somers is just one example.

Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He performed in hundred of intelligence missions over several years in the middle east.

Daniel suffered greatly from PTSD and had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and several other war-related conditions.

On June 10, 2013, Daniel wrote the following letter to his family before taking his life. His wife and family have given permission to publish it.

Daniel was 30 years old.

I am sorry that it has come to this.

The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term.

You will perhaps be sad for a time, but over time you will forget and begin to carry on. Far better that than to inflict my growing misery upon you for years and decades to come, dragging you down with me. It is because I love you that I can not do this to you. You will come to see that it is a far better thing as one day after another passes during which you do not have to worry about me or even give me a second thought. You will find that your world is better without me in it.

I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you. In truth, I was nothing more than a prop, filling space so that my absence would not be noted. In truth, I have already been absent for a long, long time.

My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I can not laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.

You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.

To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.

Beyond that, there are the host of physical illnesses that have struck me down again and again, for which they also offer no help. There might be some progress by now if they had not spent nearly twenty years denying the illness that I and so many others were exposed to. Further complicating matters is the repeated and severe brain injuries to which I was subjected, which they also seem to be expending no effort into understanding. What is known is that each of these should have been cause enough for immediate medical attention, which was not rendered.

Lastly, the DEA enters the picture again as they have now managed to create such a culture of fear in the medical community that doctors are too scared to even take the necessary steps to control the symptoms. All under the guise of a completely manufactured “overprescribing epidemic,” which stands in stark relief to all of the legitimate research, which shows the opposite to be true. Perhaps, with the right medication at the right doses, I could have bought a couple of decent years, but even that is too much to ask from a regime built upon the idea that suffering is noble and relief is just for the weak.

However, when the challenges facing a person are already so great that all but the weakest would give up, these extra factors are enough to push a person over the edge.

Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.

It leaves us to where all we have to look forward to is constant pain, misery, poverty, and dishonor. I assure you that, when the numbers do finally drop, it will merely be because those who were pushed the farthest are all already dead.

And for what? Bush’s religious lunacy? Cheney’s ever growing fortune and that of his corporate friends? Is this what we destroy lives for

Since then, I have tried everything to fill the void. I tried to move into a position of greater power and influence to try and right some of the wrongs. I deployed again, where I put a huge emphasis on saving lives. The fact of the matter, though, is that any new lives saved do not replace those who were murdered. It is an exercise in futility.

Then, I pursued replacing destruction with creation. For a time this provided a distraction, but it could not last. The fact is that any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand. How can I possibly go around like everyone else while the widows and orphans I created continue to struggle? If they could see me sitting here in suburbia, in my comfortable home working on some music project they would be outraged, and rightfully so.

I thought perhaps I could make some headway with this film project, maybe even directly appealing to those I had wronged and exposing a greater truth, but that is also now being taken away from me. I fear that, just as with everything else that requires the involvement of people who can not understand by virtue of never having been there, it is going to fall apart as careers get in the way.

The last thought that has occurred to me is one of some kind of final mission. It is true that I have found that I am capable of finding some kind of reprieve by doing things that are worthwhile on the scale of life and death. While it is a nice thought to consider doing some good with my skills, experience, and killer instinct, the truth is that it isn’t realistic. First, there are the logistics of financing and equipping my own operation, then there is the near certainty of a grisly death, international incidents, and being branded a terrorist in the media that would follow. What is really stopping me, though, is that I simply am too sick to be effective in the field anymore. That, too, has been taken from me.

Thus, I am left with basically nothing. Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war. Abandoned by those who would take the easy route, and a liability to those who stick it out—and thus deserve better. So you see, not only am I better off dead, but the world is better without me in it

This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing. I know how to kill, and I know how to do it so that there is no pain whatsoever. It was quick, and I did not suffer. And above all, now I am free. I feel no more pain. I have no more nightmares or flashbacks or hallucinations. I am no longer constantly depressed or afraid or worried

I am free.

I ask that you be happy for me for that. It is perhaps the best break I could have hoped for. Please accept this and be glad for me.

Daniel Somers

(via Gawker)

Veteran’s Day 2012

Today is Veteran’s Day.  Please be sure you thank every service member you can for their service to our country.

In honor of Veteran’s Day, Freedom to Marry and OutServe-SLDN today released a video called “Second Skin,” a visual representation of how gay and lesbian soldiers, though allowed to be out, continue to be discriminated against under the Defense of Marriage Act.

Campaign ad: “Rebuilding”

I could not agree with this ad more.

Not only did the President get us out of Iraq and is currently getting us out of Afghanistan, but he got the man who planned the 9/11 attacks.

Regarding Osama bin Laden, Mitt Romney said “It’s not worth moving heaven and Earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”

Romney also floated the idea of using a voucher system to help veterans get health care.

No.  Not good enough for our veterans.

Clear choice here, kids.

GOP Senators block Veterans Jobs bill

Senate Democrats failed to achieve cloture and thus prevent a filibuster on the legislation which would cost $1bn over five years to help veterans find employment in public work projects and as police officers and firefighters.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) led the opposition to the bill, arguing that the nation’s debt overrode its obligations to help veterans get jobs. Only 5 Republicans voted to proceed with the debate, leaving Democrats two votes short of the 60 required to block a threatened Republican filibuster.

And our country’s veterans lose.

Read more at RawStory

Michele Bachmann upsets Veterans over proposed cuts

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann caught flak from the Veterans of Foreign Wars over her proposed benefit cuts in an attempt to reduce the US debt load.

In a statement released Friday, Richard Eubank, head of the VFW said “No way, no how, will we let this proposal get any traction in Congress.”

In addition to cutting veteran’s benefits, Bachmann proposed a host of other spending cuts such as abolishing the Department of Education, reducing farm subsidies and eliminating other federal grants and programs.

Bachmann has recently come under fire for a “revisionist” view of U. S. history in a speech given in Iowa in front of Iowans for Tax Relief on Jan. 21. In that speech she claimed that the founding father’s of the U.S. worked “tirelessly” to eradicate slavery. This, of course, doesn’t jive with history that shows our country didn’t outlaw slavery until the end of the Civil War and by passing the 13th Amendment.