Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Death Memorial

Stephen’s Story

In the summer of “98″ Stephen, at just 18yrs. of age, decided on his own to turn his life around and join the United States Navy. I, his mother, at his request, bought him a book to help him study for the ASVAB test as he was bound and determined to make it. He worked out every day, started to jog and studied hard every night. He took the test and passed with flying colors telling me that an instructor at the testing site told him that he did better than most of the seniors that graduated from high school. Stephen only had a GED and was thrilled that he had done so well. He graduated bootcamp and then went on to San Antonio, Tx. for his Aschool where he would be studying for Mess Specialist.

Stephen had big plans of opening up his own “Sports Bar/Restaurant” when he got out of the service. Stephen did well in Aschool and graduated at the top of his class and that is why he got first pick at where he wanted stationed. He chose Nas Oceana, Va. as it was closest to home and would make it easier to travel back and forth when he was on leave. He was home for 2 weeks before heading off to Virginia and he told everyone all of his stories about bootcamp and San Antonio and how happy he was that he joined the Navy.

On April 17th 1999 his father and I drove him to the airport where he would be headed for his first duty station at Nas Oceana, Va. This would be the last time we saw our son alive!!

Stephen called once a week at first but then started making friends and stretched it out to calling every 2 weeks. He was getting along fine, excited about going on his first cruise and had just bought himself a tv and got his cable hooked up, a Sony Playstation with a couple video games, a clock radio and a telephone so family wouldn’t have to pay long distant phone bills. Stephen lived on base and had no problems of any kind that we his family were aware of. Then on May 30, 1999 I received the horrible and shocking news that Stephen was found hanging in a hotel room in Las Vegas, NV.

The LVMPD never conducted any type of investigation and the Navy stated that because his death occurred off base, while he was off duty, and had nothing to do with the Navy (I wonder how they knew this?) that the NCIS would not be conducting any type of investigation as well. Only after my constant nagging did his base command conduct a “tiny” investigation which didn’t amount to anything and only went along with the reports from the LVMPD. No matter how many letters I sent, phone calls I made and numerous attempts at getting different people to help no investigation ever got done and his death remains a complete shock and mystery to our whole entire family and everyone who knew Stephen.

Two of Stephen’s friends from the base came to Pa. and attended his funeral. At the cemetery, we were told by the one young man that he knew that Stephen wasn’t traveling by himself or taking money out of the ATM machines by himself!! I pressured his base command to have this boy questioned after telling them what we were told at the cemetery, and a year later I get a report, or should I say an email conversation on legal paper, and the only question they asked him was, “How well did you know Stephen Killian and what was his attitude towards the Navy?”?!! They totally disregarded my concerns that this young man knew something about what happened to my son!!! I just don’t understand how such a happy young man who could get along in any type of situation can suddenly just become suicidal!! Of course, It may be able to happen given certain circumstances but the point is nothing was ever proven that pointed to depression or suicidal thoughts of any kind!! It seems that my son just vanished off base without anyone knowing and took a greyhound bus from Virginia Beach to Las Vegas and ended up hanging in a hotel room.

When I received his belongings from Las Vegas the only things we got were a pair of what appearred to be neatly ironed “baggy levi’s”, a neatly ironed cotton button up shirt, a clean t-shirt, his wallet with no money and his Nike shoes which also looked spotless. These clothes seemed a bit “too neat and clean” for a person who was traveling by bus for 2 days plus 19hrs. The Administrator’s office in Las Vegas assurred me that they do not launder the clothes before they are returned home. Also, in his jean’s pocket was a phone number written on the hotel stationery without an area code so our family assumed it was either a Vegas number or a Virginia Beach number. The police assured us (yeah right) that this number didn’t check out and when we called it ourselves with a Virginia Beach area code it was a cell phone number that had just been disconnected?! I called his base to ask if there was any way they could check out this number as it may be someone on base or someone who lived off base but I was told that they have no means of checking out a phone number!!! Wow…. since when can’t the military, government, etc. not be able to check out a simple phone number????
I also believe that if my son was actually taking off, going AWOL whatever, that he would have definitely packed a bag and called one of his friends at home here, but he had nothing with him except the clothes on his back!!

Additionally, the funeral the funeral director told Stephen’s grandfather that the ligature mark didn’t course up behind his ears, as the autopsy report stated, but went horizontal around his neck. He also stated that he noted bruises to the torso of the body, another important fact left out of the autopsy

I just get so frustrated that I trusted the military with my only son and thought he would be safe!! It seems that the military’s only concern is keeping “their own” from getting into any trouble as they surely wouldn’t want their command to look bad?! I thought that because my son was a member of the United States Navy that everything in their power would be done to investigate and prove that he either committed suicide or was murdered and that we our family would get a thorough report of the events leading up to his untimely death and a report that would tell us why and how our only son died!! But instead we got nothing, we got a report that was to say the least, inadequet and could fit into a large white letter envelope!! It is very difficult to go on when you lose a child but when you honestly don’t know what happened it is just maddening!!!

I still keep in touch with the young man from the base who talked to our family at the cemetary, and although he never addresses my questions or comments. I continue to write him in hopes that one day he will tell me what happened to my son….. Until then I continue to pray that God will let me find out the truth someday so my son can have the justice and dignity that he deserves and our family can have the peace of mind and closure that we deserve.

Sonya Killian

Proud Mother of Mssr Stephen J Killian, Jr. USN
7-14-80 to 5-30-99

Who Died Under Questionable Circumstances and Was Denied A Proper and Thorough Investigation
Painfully Loved and Missed By Family and His Many Many Friends

If you have any information about this case, contact Sonya Killian through this website.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Families seek more recognition for vets who died in accidents

When it presents posthumous awards for bravery in combat, the military often releases detailed accounts of events in which troops died. But with some accidents and other noncombat deaths, details never are released, even to family members of the dead.

Such secrecy frustrates families, undermines the military’s credibility and suggests that these deaths are less noble, says Donna Janeczko, who founded an online support group for families who have lost loved ones in noncombat military incidents, including accidents.

Read more here:

Read the entire story here.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Military women and suicide: Home safe but not sound

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Edie Bailey was shocked when her doorbell rang at 6 a.m. on a Saturday and the somber faces of uniformed soldiers greeted her. She recognized the macabre scene played out in countless movies, but how could this be happening? Her foster daughter, Galina, was home from war, safe, and hunkered down at her military base in Hawaii.

Then one of the men spoke. Galina was dead, he told her. Wait. Pause. Dead? But she hadn't yet left for her second tour abroad.

"She shot herself in the head," Edie says now, the words even and detached. "She got into her car at the base and blew her brains out."

Read the entire story here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

4 Marines in Afghanistan electrocuted in separate incidents

At least four Marines have been electrocuted in separate incidents since November while serving in Afghanistan, according to the Marine Corps Times.

Their deaths were caused by low-hanging power lines that touched radio antenna and problems stemming from an electric generator, the Times reported, citing documents the paper obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Marine Corps Times reported those electrocuted in Afghanistan recently are Cpls. Adam Buyes, Connor Lowry and Jon-Luke Bateman and Lance Cpl. Kenneth Cochran.

Source: Marine Corps Times

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Is There Ever An Appropriate Use for Psychiatric Drugs in the Military?

Regarding Military taking steps to limit the use of antipsychotics for PTSD, (David Sell, Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/13/12), we are told the Pentagon admits to “suspicions” that the the problem might be the “overprescribing” of antipsychotics when, in fact, antipsychotics mixed with antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs have been killing hundreds, of soldiers and veterans, at home and abroad. Maybe more.

In a February 7, 2008 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, the Army's recently departed Surgeon General, said there has been "a series, a sequence of deaths" in the new "warrior transition units” (WTUs).

On April 13, 2009, Baughman wrote the Office of the Surgeon General (OTSG) pressing Schoomaker about his "series, sequence of deaths" statement and the existence of an analysis of these deaths said to be forthcoming. On April 17, 2009, the OTSG responded: "The assessment is still pending and has not been released yet." Nor has such a disclosure ever been released.

Andrew White, son of Stan and Shirley White was one of four soldiers from the Charleston, WV area, seemingly OK at bedtime only to be found dead in bed hours later. These are not “overdoses” with central nervous system (CNS) depressant drugs causing steadily deepening coma leading to respiratory depression and death, as the the Surgeon General, the Inspector General of the Veterans Administration, and the whole of the Pentagon would have us believe, blaming the victims. Rather, these are “sudden unexpected deaths,” a.k.a. sudden cardiac deaths with most of the deceased having been seen alive and apparently well within the preceding 12 hours. Some, in fact, were seen as recently as 2-3 hours previously when they had laid down to take a nap.

Googling “soldier found dead, “dead in barracks,” “dead in bed,” etc. we have uncovered 314 such deaths of mostly males in their 20s—probable sudden cardiac deaths. Three hundred and fourteen! And we find more each time we return to the grim task.

Sicouri & Antezelevitch (Expert Opinion. Drug Saf. (2008) 7 (2):181-194.) conclude: “A number of antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs are known to increase the risk of ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. Antipsychotics can increase cardiac risk even at low doses whereas antidepressants do it generally at high doses or in the setting of drug combinations.”

Honkola et al (European Heart Journal, online September 14, 2011 doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehr368) conclude: “The use of psychotropic drugs, especially the combined use of antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs, is strongly associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD)…” These are all risks long-known to government and military medicine. Who made such drugging policy?

In June 2011, a Department of Defense Health Advisory Group backed a highly questionable policy of "polypharmacy" (five, ten or fifteen drugs at a time) asserting: "...multiple psychotropic meds may be appropriate in select individuals." The fact of the matter is that psychotropic drug polypharmacy is never safe, scientific, or medically justifiable. What it is, is a means of maximizing profit, while making it difficult-to-+impossible to blame adverse effects on any one drug.

From 2001 to the present, US Central Command has given deploying troops 180 day supplies of prescription psychotropic drugs--Seroquel included. In a May 2010 report of its Pain Management Task Force, the Army endorsed Seroquel in 25- or 50-milligram doses as a 'sleep aid.' Over the past decade, $717 million was spent for Risperdal and $846 million for Seroquel, or $1.5 billion when neither Risperdal nor Seroquel have been proven safe or effective for PTSD or sleep disorders.

Ironically, yet not surprisingly, pay-to-play in Washington becomes more egregious every day. Heather Bresch, daughter of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-WV) was recently named CEO of WV drug-maker Mylan Inc., that recently contracted with the DoD for over 20 million doses of Seroquel. Defense Department Health Advisory Group chair, Charles Fogelman, warned: "DoD currently lacks a unified pharmacy database that reflects medication use across pre-deployment, deployment and post-deployment settings." In essence, through a premeditated lack of record keeping, mandated by law at any other pharmacy or medical office to track potential fatal reactions to mixing prescription drugs, the military is willfully preempting all investigations into the injuries and deaths due to these and other psychiatric drugs.

We call on the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration, the House and Senate Armed Services and House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees to tell concerned Americans and the families of fallen heroes what psychiatric drugs each of the deceased, both combat and non-combat, soldiers, and veterans were on? It is time for the military and government to come clean. Until they do there can be no such thing as the appropriate prescribing of such drugs in the military--either at home or abroad.

By Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD* & Stan White**

**Father of deceased soldiers Andrew (dead in bed at home) and Robert White (dead in combat in Iraq)

Death Memorial

My younger brother, LTC Rocky Baragona was killed on May 19 2003, on his way home, in Safwat Iraq, by Kuwait Gulf Link Transport.  One of their flatbed tractor trailers, driven by a driver with improper papers and a truck with missing license plates, suddenly jackknifed and landed on his Humvee, crushing him instantly. Rocky, a decorated career soldier, with a flawless military record who had been in the top 5% of his West Point Class, proudly served his country with honor as the Commander of the 19th Maintenance Battalion out of Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Because of the irresponsible contracting practices by this DOD multibillion dollar foreign contractor, my brother was killed.

Our family received a miserable AR15-6 report eight months later: two days before Xmas. The report gave no information about the company or the driver that killed him. The accident scene photos later showed KGL’s name 20 inches high written across the front of the vehicle with other KGL trucks and 18 people at the scene that day. Some inaccuracies surrounding the crash smeared his good honor with insinuations that his death was his own fault. The officer who accompanied the report said in all of his years, he had never seen anything quite this bad. It was a dark day.

No family should ever have to do their own investigation into the death of their loved one. In shock and grief, following this report, we did just that.

Distraught and with disbelief toward the military, who appeared to now have abandoned and betrayed us, we looked for legal recourse. After 700 attempts failed to find an attorney who would consider our case, we found Steve Perles’ Law Firm, experts at plaintiff claims in international laws and Middle Eastern affairs. Their skills were the cutting stone for what appeared to be an impossible set of circumstances and we relied heavily on their skills and expertise. Mr. Perles himself taught us, in spite of our grief, how to reach out to the military, Congress, and even the White House to get results.

By 2005, with his guidance and the support of Sen. DeWine we received, 2 years later from Brig. Gen. Wright, a second, still faulty revised AR15-6 official report stating Kuwait Gulf Link Transport indeed was responsible for the death of my brother. It was a huge victory that allowed us to let go, for the moment, of a missing criminal investigation, required but never done at the time by the Army. It now appeared impossible to do a criminal investigation, as the evidence seemed all but lost. With KGL now officially in an Army report found responsible for his death we could move forward for the first time. It was our first piece of legal evidence it meant Justice for Rocky could now be found civilly in a US court of law.

Oblivious to all of this was the company that killed him. You see KGL, during this time, was enjoying and reaping the benefits of being a DOD multimillion dollar foreign contractor. Through US taxpayers they were growing from a mid size company to a major player in the contracting world. Quickly learning the contracting game, they chalked up military subcontract victories from other USG Prime Vendors like Agility, CSA, KBR.

KGL’s success in USG contracting soon lead to major changes in their business structure, I watched the forming of the KGL holding company, with 7 plus subsidiaries. It was a $30 million investment into Circle Oil, KGL Petroleum and the KGL Port Development and KGL Shipping lines with all of the money going back into the middle east. Then there was the development of the RAK area near Iran. Diamond trading, a private investment company in the Cayman Islands, the investment in the Philippines with Clark Air Force Base and on and on.

Did this get your attention? It sure started to get mine!

The US taxpayer was not getting a dime back except a trade for goods and services in the Iraq War — KGL was getting a lot.

At the same time I watched KGL also begin launching a major campaign to court the US Military with their website, bragging of their becoming a prime vendor for the Army.

However, all this growth did nothing to help KGL’s military victims. In our case, when approached to work towards a resolution in the death of LTC Baragona, they turned a deaf ear over and over again.
At first, we simply wanted an answer to what happened on May 19 2003, but as time went on and the silent arrogance grew, we began to question, “Why didn’t this company want to communicate?” It was concerning to us, that a military contractor who had the obvious skill to win millions in US military contracts could not file an insurance claim. Or maybe they had something to hide? We asked ourselves, “Why did a potential Prime Vendor want to take these kind of risks when millions of future contracts could be at stake? Was it cultural difference, arrogance?”

It seemed stupid on their part. Maybe it was bad advice from lawyers who wanted their own financial gain? Or did this contractor really have something to hide? KGL’s silence wore on us and it raised all of our suspicions about the secret world of contracting, leading us deeper into the investigation of their business practices.

During these years, we learned through newspaper accounts that KGL truck drivers had complained of being trafficked against their will in order to deliver goods to US troops in Iraq. Some were kidnapped and other’s were arrested for smuggling grains on the black market. An ex employee spoke of insurance fraud and falsification of documents to win Army contracts, but was too afraid to do anything about it. KGL was banned in India for false recruiting scams which tricked much-needed truck drivers to deliver goods to Army bases in Iraq.

The truth began to change, and we learned all too well how quickly the US Army looked the other way when a contractor like KGL used questionable practices. There simply was no oversight. I was appalled at the acceptance of our military to do nothing about any of it. Isn’t this what we asked our soldiers to fight and die for: democracy and a free life for those persecuted? Yet we allowed our defense contractors to perform government contracts using human trafficking? It was clear that forced labor in contracting was an acceptable way of doing business. The Army’s position was to Protect and supply the troops . But at what and at whose cost did we do this?

Undeterred, we stayed focused on our case and worked towards creating communication solutions with KGL through the Kuwaiti Ambassador and their Prime Minister, using the Army and many members in Congress as our messenger.

With no response from KGL on all fronts, we felt compelled to file a wrongful death suit in the courts as our only hope for accountability.

So it began: the horrible task of going through Rocky’s last days. We had to painfully recount each moment of his dying, spending hours at researching the FARS, gathering evidence by reconstructing the accident scene, finally dividing his life into dollar values to determine a means for restitution (a system of debilitating humiliation).

All of this was done so that we could sit across a table to look into somebody’s eyes from KGL to ask “Why?” “Why the silence? And what are you/KGL willing to do since your company, your driver, killed him?“ We wondered aloud among ourselves.

Could we keep our promise to get justice for Rocky with a company who could not see how their silence looked to everyone in America, well, except the Army? …….and the big question… did this really even serve justice? A lot of doubt came over us, And still we continued

This time to the White House. Through a chance encounter, I was fortunate enough to get a moment to speak with President Bush who promised to help us fight for answers. The President assigned our case to the White House military liaison, Terry Chauncey, who we loved at first sight. He facilitated a Presidential inquiry to the DOD debarment office asking for KGL’s participation. Otherwise, they would face suspension and possible debarment. It was a good moment and we quietly celebrated.
We thought, “This is the end, it will be over soon…you cannot get much higher than the President of the United States of America. Commander in Chief…right!!!! Now, thank God. Finally some peace: we can get some real answers and hold KGL accountable.

Not so fast…

The Army sent out an official request for KGL’s response from their office.

KGL then hired an ex-debarment official, retired Gen. Bednar, of Crowell and Moring, as their counsel. He quickly went into the DOD debarment office and had off record discussions about our case. Ahhh — the good ole boy club. Something we should have seen coming, but it seemed incredible that a retired General would defend a foreign contractor on a case from the President of the United States against an Army family. Rocky was a Commander who had served in Iraq and died for his country!

Well, believe it — it happened

The debarment office quickly ended our relationship, except for one last off the record conversation my father had with the Army Debarment official, who told him, “ Hey Dominic, what can I do? This guy used to be my boss.” The Army official said that there was nothing more he or we could do unless we won the case.

How is that for pressure?

And how, may I ask, is it possible for KGL, a foreign contractor serving the interest of the United States, to be able to trump the debarment inquiry from the President ,Commander in Chief?
Well they did, and the debarment inquiry very quietly went on hold –indefinitely. The White House Liaison was fired and sent to Japan. We never saw another person from the White House.
We learned in that moment, that we had no idea what we were dealing with.

The game of High Stakes Poker just went up.

They showed us who was boss, KGL continued their position of silence a lot more confidently, even ignoring service to participate in the current court proceeding by the US Federal Court’s Judge Duffy. Finally, in response to their arrogance, the Georgia Courts would agree to our argument for jurisdiction and awarded our family the default judgment of $4.9 million dollars.
Seems incredible doesn’t it?

This victory, however as we were warned, would be short-lived.


Personam Jurisdiction — which meant the US could rule against the settlement if KGL could prove they had no business ties with the United States. (Which to us seemed impossible given the millions and millions in payments KGL had received as a government contractor from the Army and the Air Force, and KBR, Bechtel…it’s impossible to name them all..

And as you guessed it: KGL would appeal using this law “personam jurisdiction”. I call it a “get out of court free card.” gift wrapped from the FARS.

We knew we were going to lose, but we didn’t care…The battle went forward.

KGL used all means available to fight the jurisdiction with an entire team of lawyers who scheduled a Sept 11th deposition with KGL officers finally coming to America.

The silence was broken. We had waited a long time for this.

My first and only meeting with them, began with a handshake and an apology, asking me not to take any of this personally. OMG….OMG….Who says that? I was locked into a gag order by my lawyer or I would have come out with every*7%%# I could think of .

Instead I sat there seething while in the deposition…listening to their testimony about how small and helpless they were. Didn’t we know it was a war? Their limited employees lost records; there was no help to be able to find them; and on and on… I couldn’t believe this. Did they not know their website was public domain? It currently stated they had over 6,000 employees! This approach could not work in court!

Well, I was wrong.

The court date came up and KGL with their team of lawyers, swept into the courtroom to fight the personam jurisdiction On the stand their witnesses gave the impression KGL was the size of a shoe department behind the bowling alley.

It made me want to puke. The worst part was watching my father and mother’s heads sink into their laps in utter despair. They were humiliated by the experience.

Did this affect KGL?

Oh yeah. Right!

– So much so, that each time someone got off the stand from their side, I would see the smile and knowing looks between them and the slight side high five — like “Good Job…!!!!!”

The judge watched too. It didn’t really matter. The Judge’s hands were tied by the law. This was America, where the law actually meant something.

It seemed that although the Judge would have liked to award justice to us, this would have required a path toward new law he was unwilling or unable to take. Once awarded a $4.9 million default judgment,

Judge Duffy would be forced to overturn the decision based upon KGL’s claim of Personam Jurisdiction.

Disbelief and shock does not come close to expressing how discouraged we were by the process at that time!

Our Advice for future cases: Do not try for your day in court until the law can be changed for military families. It was too much — like going through his death twice.

After digging out of our depression, we shook off the pain, and looked again for justice. This time we would work to influence Congress by using our personal experience to improve future legislation.
We poured our hearts and souls into learning about personam jurisdiction for foreign contractors and the fight in us really got stronger Washington saw us , monthly, as we spoke with every legislative staffer that would listen to us as we raised problem after problem we had faced. Our fight became a National Issue, moving from our own personal battle to one that could be used as a model to change military and public policy.

Our message was clear: lack of personal jurisdiction rights for military families meant that if you served your country, and were harmed or died at the hands of a foreign contractor, or a domestic contractor using a foreign subcontractor, the company never could be held accountable in a US court. They have the protection of US law and the support of the US Army. The conflict of interest was glaring. The Army could not be unbiased in an investigation of their own when it had to choose between their soldiers or their contractors.

Soon a second soldier would die in another crash with a KGL vehicle in 2008 with still more TCN’s victims’ complaints hidden in Middle East newspapers.

At the urging of our lawyers, Washington served as a second home. We found ourselves bringing brownies, the only allowed thank you, to the many Senate and Congressional staffers who listened to and learned from our first-hand experiences.

Our case moved from one of personal to one of national significance, turning into a model study of foreign contracting policy loopholes in the FARS. We showed a history of the military’s overdependence with other military contractors whenever media attention towards bad contracting gained a national spotlight in cases such as Blackwater, the electrocution of Ryan Maseth lawsuit, and the Jamie Leigh Jones rape case. On and on we complained for ourselves and all of the other victims that no one knew about.
It was during this process that the LTC Rocky Baragona Act was born.

Lunchroom conversations between staffers brought our family’s plight to the attention of Sen. Claire McCaskill, who chaired the Contracting Oversight Committee. The first inkling of legislation came to her from a West Point military staffer on her team, Stephen Hedger. Hedger shared same birthday as Rocky, June 14th Flag Day, the Army’s Birthday and he was also a West Point Graduate.. Steve called us in on one of our visits to tell us about the legislation, and we jumped at the opportunity to help move it forward.

The LTC Baragona Act we learned, in simple terms, will stop foreign contractors from evading responsibility in civil actions and require them to participate in the US court system or face debarment.

No longer could companies like KGL put military families through the emotional turmoil we had been through. A sister bill sponsored by Congressman Tim Ryan (who had attended the same high school as my brother) would soon follow. The bill was now gaining support on a bipartisan basis from both sides of the aisle with Senators Collins, Bennett, Brown and Martinez signed on.
Dominic Baragona, my father, testified at a homeland security hearing on the bill to ask for the Wild West of Contracting used by KGL to end. He pleaded to have what happened to us never happen again. It was an emotional hearing. Sen. Claire McCaskill stood up and spoke words of dismay in an open forum about how a military family would be forced to do their own investigation. It was a small moment of triumph in Rocky’s name.

The hearing was followed with a letter from Representatives Tim Ryan and Steve Driehaus to the Department of Justice with a request for a criminal investigation of KGL’s unethical business practices in both our case and that of others.

In the case of KGL’s bad practices, our family continued to dig further and found new evidence of their subsidiary company, “Combined Shipping Company”. This company is in a joint business venture with the Iranian Government in partnership with a company banned on the US treasury SDN list as a proliferator of WMD’s IRISL’s Val Fajr. We turned all of this over to DODIG with further evidence from a newspaper article showing that the company wanted to increase their presence in the port and shipping industries while IRAN was snubbing their nose at the US/Iranian Sanctions.
Our discovery helped to lay the groundwork for section 102 in the Iran’s Sanction’s Act, with the support of a consultant on our case, Andy Cochran, from the Perles Law Firm. A letter to Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, from Congressmen Brad Sherman and Ron Klein has now asked that KGL not be considered for future procurement contracts. Again, along with Congress, we have personally asked for KGL’s debarment. Currently KGL is bidding on over 2 billion in US military contracts.
The curtain is starting to be pulled back on bad contracting players. Foreign and Domestic Contractors have been blatantly abusing their immunity, hiding behind jurisdiction, with little oversight for far too long.

The danger of our US Military’s overdependence on contractors allows for minimal oversight and is a minefield for corruption on both sides.

The Baragona case vs. KGL represents most of what is wrong with foreign contracting companies who use taxpayer dollars to further a war for their own profits; putting in harm’s way all of our brave soldiers who have relied on them as their base for support.

American citizens must demand from our policy makers the courage to change these laws with clear lines on how to enforce them. Families like ours need solutions in jurisdictional laws, so companies like KGL do not go unnoticed. We applaud Sen. McCaskill and Rep. Sherman for their efforts to level the playing field between domestic and foreign contractors.

With the passage of the Iran’s Sanction Amendments and the potential for the “LTC Rocky Baragona Act” to become law, we can balance contracting performance in our favor. This will allow for due process against bad players to take place, which in turn, forces other foreign companies to realign their policies with US principles if they want to do business with us.

Our fight for justice is far from over. We went to Washington yet again for the Weekend of Remembrance, honoring all our soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We visited Arlington to talk to Rocky and we updated him on our criminal investigation hopes.

We also visited our staffers and lobbied on behalf of the bill. All of it has been worth it.
Rocky would say “The Truth has Changed” and we would agree.

“Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst but tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” It was a model for my brother’s life.

I hope we are carrying on Rocky’s legacy by doing the same.

Pam Baragona
Contact Pam Baragona through this website.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mental illness is the leading cause of hospitalization for active-duty troops

The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments have spent almost $2 billion since 2001 to buy drugs to treat mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder despite growing evidence some of those drugs exacerbate PTSD symptoms, a Nextgov investigation shows. In addition, military research released this week highlighted that Defense faces what one Army clinician called an epidemic of mental illness.

Despite this vast expenditure on psychotropic drugs since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, mental illness ranks as the leading cause of hospitalization for active-duty troops, according to a report published by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center in the April issue of its Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, released May 14. Mental health disorders stood out as the leading cause of hospitalization of active-duty service members in 2007, 2009 and 2011, the report noted.

AFHSC also reported that troops seeking help for mental health problems ranked third in outpatient visits in all treatment categories, behind unspecified “other” conditions -- which included routine physicals, immunizations and predeployment assessments -- and musculoskeletal injuries during the same time period

Read the entire article here.
Read the entire Broken Warriors Series.
-- submitted by Stan White

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Death Memorial

December 17, 1987 – May 15, 2008

Stephen Serrano was a wonderful child. He was always laughing. His laugh was infectiousand his smile was ear to ear and showed every feature. I loved seeing him smile.

He loved music and children. He left behind a wife, Sophia and 5 children, four of them step children. His youngest son turned a year old on May 18th, 2008, five days after he was killed, three days after his body was found. He was a star athlete in football, baseball and wrestling. He played football for the Orangevale Huskies, baseball for Sunrise Little League in Orangevale, CA. and wrestled for Marina Jr High in El Dorado Hills, CA.. He loved the outdoors. He was a wonderful son. He made me laugh. He had a great sense of humor. He had many friends. He was a brother to Shaleen Serrano, Jyoti Serrano, Savannah Rahman, Michael Serrano, Sean McKenney and Jordan Serrano. He joined the Marines in March 2007. He was with the 1st Marine Division, 2d Battalion, and 5th Marines and was a Private First Class. He was born in Bronx, NY on December 17th, 1987.

I remember May 15th 2008 as if it were yesterday, probably because it plays in my mind at least three times a day since then. The sky was blue and the air was warm; warmest it had been all year so far. I had felt ill a couple days before and today I just felt anxious like I forgot something. I headed to work thinking it will pass, but as the hours crawled by I felt a strong urge to speak to my son, Stephen.

After hours of calling and getting his voice mail I finally headed home and called the barracks. I asked them to check and see if Stephen’s toothbrush was in his room. The Major came back on the phone and said it was. I blurted out “What if he has been murdered!?” Stephen never left overnight without his toothbrush and although his comrades stated they had seen him that morning I had a sinking feeling they didn’t. I called Stephen’s phone carrier and asked when the last call was made, they said 10:30 am on May 13th. I called his wife and she hadn’t heard from him since that morning of May 13th. The last time I spoke to him was that Sunday, Mother’s Day when he called to say have a great day and I love you momma. I frantically called the barracks again and as soon as I hung up I received a call from my daughter in law. They had found Stephen. She identified him by his tattoo. I screamed and dropped the phone and begged God to help me.

Was he reaching for me? In some kind of way, the only way he could? Did he just realize what had happened to him? All I could see is him lying there. Wanting me to save him, as I always did before. Him begging me to wake him up from this nightmare. He probably was wondering why he was wandering for a day or two. Then, did he see himself from above? Broken on the grass? In a ditch left there to be found by a stranger? Who could have done such a thing? He was just a kid trying to grow up and fit in.

That was the beginning of the end for me.

Proud Mother of Pfc. Stephen C. Serrano – Christl McKenney

I created a Facebook page RIP Stephen Serrano!/pages/RIP-Stephen-Serrano/108437562534397

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Army to study use of 'off label' drugs to treat PTSD

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Army will conduct a multi-year study to evaluate a “range of pharmaceuticals” often prescribed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder but not approved specifically for that purpose, according to a bulletin released this week by the American Psychiatric Association.

To date, only the antidepressants Paxil and Zoloft have gained U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to treat PTSD, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, doctors have been prescribing other antidepressant drugs, as well as antipsychotics and even painkillers, depending on a patient’s symptoms.

Army doctors said a lack of evidence-based guidelines regarding such so-called “off-label” medications is the driving force for the study

Read the entire story here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Velazquez bill would combat hazing incidents in the military

BY ALINE REYNOLDS | East Village soldier Danny Chen’s suicide last October has contributed to the writing of legislation that would more stringently enforce anti-bullying in the armed forces.

The Service Member Anti-Hazing Act, which U.S. Congressmember Nydia Velazquez is introducing to Congress this week, would require all branches of the U.S. military to more effectively combat hazing through targeted policies and training.

The federal bill comes on the heels of 301 U.S. soldiers’ suicides last year alone and a total of 1,100 soldiers’ suicides during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, according to Velazquez.

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Army Releases April Suicide Data

The Army released suicide data today for the month of April. During April, among active-duty soldiers, there were 14 potential suicides: two have been confirmed as suicides and 12 remain under investigation. For March, the Army reported 18 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers. Since the release of that report, 12 have been confirmed as suicides and six remain under investigation. For 2012, there have been 61 potential active-duty suicides: 35 have been confirmed as suicides and 26 remain under investigation. Active-duty suicide numbers for 2011: 164 (164 have been confirmed as suicides and none remain under investigation).

During April, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were 13 potential suicides (five Army National Guard and eight Army Reserve): two have been confirmed as suicide and 11 remain under investigation. For March, among that same group, the Army reported 10 potential suicides (seven Army National Guard and three Army Reserve). Since the release of that report, six have been confirmed as suicides and four remain under investigation. For 2012, there have been 34 potential not on active duty suicides (22 Army National Guard and 12 Army Reserve): 18 have been confirmed as suicides and 16 remain under investigation. Updated not on active duty suicide numbers for 2011: 118 (82 Army National Guard and 36 Army Reserve); 118 have been confirmed as suicides and none remain under investigation.

"The Army's ability and commitment to care for our nation's greatest treasure -- America's sons and daughters -- is the bedrock of our nation's trust in our Army. A key component of our commitment to maintaining this trust is our ongoing effort to reduce the stigma of seeking help when needed. By achieving a cultural change that encourages help-seeking behaviors, we will be postured to more effectively combat suicide within our ranks," said Brig. Gen. Barrye L. Price, director, human resources policy, Army G-1.

Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained consultants are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and can be contacted by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by visiting their website at .

Army leaders can access current health promotion guidance in newly revised Army Regulation 600-63 (Health Promotion) at: .

and Army Pamphlet 600-24 (Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention) at .

The Army's comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at .
Suicide prevention training resources for Army families can be accessed at (requires Army Knowledge Online access to download materials).

Information about Military OneSource is located at or by dialing the toll-free number 1-800-342-9647 for those residing in the continental United States. Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource website for dialing instructions for their specific location.

Information about the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at .
The Defense Center for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, via electronic mail at and at .
The website for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is , and the Suicide Prevention Resource Council site is found at .

Source:  DOD Announcement, verbatim

3 Guard Troops to Face Courts-Martial in Hazing Case

STUTTGART, Germany -- Three National Guard soldiers accused of hazing junior troops with a range of tactics that allegedly included racial slurs and sexual harassment while on a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo will face courts-martial in Germany in the coming months, U.S. Army Europe announced Tuesday.

“The Soldiers pending Courts-Martial have been charged with failure to obey lawful orders or regulation, and cruelty and maltreatment,” said Col. Bryan Hilferty, USAREUR spokesman, in a statement. “One of the Soldiers has also been accused of indecent exposure. All of these charges are merely accusations, and all accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

The Army did not release the names of the three soldiers -- a first sergeant, a staff sergeant, and a sergeant. The soldiers could face discharge from the military, reduction in rank, confinement, loss of pay or a combination, according to USAREUR.

Read the entire story here.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

At summit, sexual assault survivors share trauma, seek change

WASHINGTON — Ayana Powell was still in Army training when she went to a party with her fellow soldiers and drank a cup of what she thought was juice. The next thing she remembers is waking up naked.

Powell knew she had been raped, but when she returned to training she said she was immediately yelled at for being 15 minutes late and arriving without a battle buddy.

When she finally reported the rape, she was told no one wanted to hear it. She was pregnant and was told that the Army would not pay for an abortion. Two weeks later, she was processed out of the military. Nine months later she had a baby.

Read the entire story here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Federal court reverses order to overhaul VA treatment system

SAN FRANCISCO — In a major setback for suffering combat veterans, a federal appeals court on Monday found that Congress, not the courts, is responsible for fixing the VA’s troubled mental health care system, overturning a previous court that found the program riddled with “unchecked incompetence.”

In a 10-1 decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit that sought to force the Department of Veterans Affairs to overhaul the treatment program and reversed an earlier ruling that would have forced the government to speed up treatment requests and benefit claims.
Read the entire story here.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Pentagon to limit anti-psychotic drugs for PTSD

By Patricia Kime - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday May 3, 2012 16:12:38 EDT
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The Pentagon is moving to limit off-label use of powerful anti-psychotic drugs for post-traumatic stress disorder — a practice some say may contribute to accidental drug overdoses among troops.
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson sent a letter to the services in February asking military treatment facilities to monitor prescriptions of atypical antipsychotics like risperidone and quetiapine, marketed under the brand name Seroquel.

The drugs, used to treat severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, are sometimes prescribed to troops in lower doses to alleviate symptoms associated with PTSD and anxiety, including nightmares and irritability.
But when mixed with other prescriptions, they can be dangerous and sometimes fatal.
Read the entire story here.

--submitted by Stan White

Allow Veterans a Drug-Free Alternative for PTSD Treatment!