National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center Wins Contract For PTS Programs

Why should you care? The National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center (NVW&HC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit is located in Angel Fire, New Mexico. The mission of the NVW&HC is to establish an environment that is responsive to the needs of veterans and military families using creative therapies and processes that focus on emotional and physical healing. IMG_1448 What this means in practice is that veterans who have been diagnosed with PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) and spouses can attend retreats in Angel Fire, using the facilities of Angel Fire Resort and drawing on traditional and untraditional therapy methods. The couples are housed in the Resort hotel and all expenses of the retreats are covered by this funding, except for transportation to and from Angel Fire. Lisa Ling, a television journalist, did a documentary on one of the first retreats which was broadcast on the Oprah Channel. Here is a link for a five minute segment: http://www.oprah.com/own-our-america-lisa-ling/Invisible-Wounds-of-War-Breaking-Their-Silence In 2009, NVW&HC began retreats for veteran families who had been diagnosed with PTS (Post Traumatic Stress). Eleven veterans and spouses successfully completed the week-long retreat and have been celebrating their success since. We have continued to hold retreats every year since our inception and have a long list of satisfied couples.

Governor Susana Martinez put $350,000/year for four years for PTS counseling in her FY2015 budget, which was approved by the legislature. The program was competed and the MVW&HC was awarded the contract. This multi-year funding from the State of New Mexico will enhance our ability to continue these retreats. The plan now is to have a retreat in November 2014 and five more in the Spring 2015 ending before the end of the fiscal year on 30 June. We will then have three each half of the following fiscal years, covering approximately 350 couples over the next four years. This is New Mexico money for New Mexico veterans, but the NMW&HC will continue to raise money nationwide in order to include vets from other states. There is a waiting list for couples. Anyone interested in attending a retreat should contact LTC Chuck Howe, USA (ret), president of the NVW&HC, through its website at www.veteranswellnessandhealing.org IMG_1454 More information about Angel Fire and the surrounding area can be accessed through the AF Village Visitor Center website at: http://www.angelfirefun.com/

The Angel Fire Resort website is: http://www.angelfireresort.com/ IMG_1013 Here is a link to the nearby NM Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park: https://www.vietnamveteransmemorial.org/special-features/14/RecommendedLinks/

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Russia

I planned to examine Russia last on my tour through Asia as presented in my novel, Chita Quest, but the events of the past couple months are simply breathtaking, almost unprecedented, and simply cannot be ignored any longer.

Okay, I’ll say it….Vladimir Putin is a Stalinist thug. There, it’s out on the table. My opinion. Perhaps it is fitting for me to post about Putin right after writing about Genghis Khan. The difference is that I admire Genghis.

So, I’ll start with the most recent atrocities committed by Russian leaders in the Crimea and Ukraine. Most of this post will be a re-hash of articles you have seen in the media. I will address the geographical, historical, and economics in later posts.

Russia is on the move, asserting itself and expanding. Surprise. An interesting tie in with my previous post is that the Rus, the forebears of today’s Russians, have been on the move expanding since the death of Genghis. His armies reached what is now Ukraine and pushed the Rus back towards their capital at Kiev. After the demise of Genghis, his empire began to shrink around the edges. In the early 1800s, the Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, compared the attitudes of the Rus expanding east and the Anglo-Americans expanding westward, both cultures creating a myth of expansion into their frontiers as they strove towards their destinies. http://www.bartleby.com/73/2045.html

So now, Putin is on the move. First in Georgia, now in Ukraine. By using surrogates and “rebels,” Putin is playing a risky game and may lose control of his puppets. He will be blamed for their propensity to commit atrocities. Not to mention breaking the fragile ceasefire. Nobody knows how this will play out but Putin has certainly changed the world’s perception of Russia. How the West holds up will be a function of leadership. In my not-so-humble opinion, Germany’s Angela Merkel has shown herself to be the most courageous and outspoken of Western leaders. http://theweek.com/speedreads/index/257259/speedreads-germanys-merkel-vladimir-putin-is-living-in-another-world

Here is what’s happening on the sanctions front:

http://news.yahoo.com/ruble-plunges-sharply-against-euro-dollar-110647010.html

Another finger in Putin’s eye, the approval of the trade agreement of Ukraine with the EU that started this whole invasion…

http://www.thewire.com/global/2014/09/ukraine-approves-eu-pact-that-set-off-the-whole-crisis-with-russia/380273/

And now, even some of the Russian people are starting to object to Putin’s (mis)adventures:

http://news.yahoo.com/thousands-march-moscow-against-kremlin-role-ukraine-strife-134404129.html

This in from our English friends:

http://www.inquisitr.com/1479376/vladimir-putin-as-dangerous-as-stalin-and-bigger-threat-than-isis-claims-former-defence-secretary/

NATO knows what it will do but does Putin understand?

http://www.businessinsider.com/estonian-colonel-putin-wants-to-dominate-europe-2014-9

Why is Putin doing this?

http://www.inquisitr.com/1487210/russian-bombers-fly-within-30-miles-of-canadian-coast-as-vladimir-putin-threatens-wider-war/

Given Putin’s actions, here is a potpurri of opinions, both pro-West and pro-Russia:

http://perspectives.carnegie.org/us-russia/?utm_source=googlepaid&utm_medium=AdWords&utm_content=mobile&utm_campaign=USRussia082014

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/the-monitors-view/2014/0918/Why-Ukraine-speaks-of-civilization-to-Americans

And finally, once again, the media does its best to make matters worse:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2014/09/17/the-media-has-swallowed-five-russian-myths-that-have-helped-putin-win-in-ukraine/

Mongolia

Not your run-of-the-mill country. I have long been fascinated by Mongolia and actually routed my characters in my latest thriller, Chita Quest, through Mongolia in order to justify all the research that I wanted to do. This will be only the first of several posts about Mongolia.

Why should you be even the slightest bit interested in Mongolia? Well for one, there is a high probability that nobody you know has any idea about the country—more likely, what they do “know” is wrong. Imagine how you could make major points in a trivia contest…For example, the name of the capital is a Jeopardy question (Ulaan Bataar)…

Here’s a map:

http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/asia/lgcolor/mncolor.htm

I have never been to Mongolia but it is high on my bucket list. In the meantime, I trolled the internet, interviewed (grilled, actually) the few people I could find who had been there, and read several books, the most notable is Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford http://www.amazon.com/Genghis-Khan-Making-Modern-World/dp/0609809644

A couple tidbits about the great Genghis directly from Professor Weatherford: In twenty five years, the Mongols conquered more territory than the Romans managed in four hundred; whether measured by the number of people defeated, the number of countries annexed, or the total area of land, Genghis conquered more than twice as much as any other man in history. From Mongolia and on a horse, which he apparently hardly ever dismounted, being busy conquering and all…His empire lasted over 150 years—Kublai Khan of Marco Polo fame was his grandson. His blood line was nearly obliterated by the Soviets—yes those Soviets—in the 1920s, nearly 700 years later. His contributions to today’s world are clearly laid out in Weatherford’s wonderful book, which by the way, reads like a novel. And, yes, I realize Genghis was not Mr. Congeniality. 

Mongolia is a large landlocked country between two larger countries—Russia and China. A tad smaller than Alaska, it’s located on mountains and plateaus and is one of the world’s highest countries with an average elevation of 1,580 meters (5,180 feet). Mongolia suffers temperature extremes (Ulaan Bataar is the coldest capital city in the world…the only one with an average temperature of less than 32 degrees F—another Jeopardy question), and southern Mongolia is dominated by the Gobi desert.

Apart from all the history associated with Mongolia and the Mongols, what is crucial to us today is what is going on in this undeveloped country of just less than three million people. Mongolia is the site of probably the last great mineral rush in history. It is jammed packed with oil, gas, copper, gold, silver, coal, you name it. It is estimated that Mongolia’s economy will be the second fastest growing economy in the world in 2014. Not surprising, the surge of investment money threatens the agrarian, nomadic culture and landscape with corruption and pollution, not to mention the chaos from the influx of foreigners. Nearly half the nation’s people have moved to Ulaan Bataar in order to join the rush to riches, effectively de-populating the rest of the already sparsely populated country. http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2014/03/23/mongolias-economic-prospects-and-challenges/

As usual, the National Geographic has a wonderful site on Mongolia:

http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/mongolia-photos/

Here’s another with more pictures of Ulaan Bataar: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/10/ulaanbaatar/leong-photography#/01-models-child-acrobat-concert-670.jpg 

I’ll get back to Mongolia in a future post, after I take a swing around the other Asian countries featured in Chita Quest.

Florida Authors and Publishers Association thinks I’m swell

FAPA Award Chita Quest won silver medals in two categories, Adult Fiction Action/Suspense and Book Cover Design!

Memorial Day with Joe Galloway

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For ceremonies on Memorial Day Weekend 2014, the New Mexico Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park’s guest speaker was Joe Galloway. Joe was a war correspondent in Vietnam who accompanied the 1st Battalion 7th Cavalry Regiment into Ia Drang for what became one of the most savage battles of the Vietnam War. He co-authored the best-selling books We Were Soldiers Once…And Young and We Are Soldiers Still with the commander of the 1st Battalion, LGEN Harold Moore.

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Joe is a dynamic personality, completely at ease speaking his mind on Vietnam, foreign policy, the VA, and just about any other subject that might come up. His speech was unscripted and came from the heart. His words resonated with the audience, made up mostly of vets and their families, who interrupted him many times with applause, laughter and even several standing ovations. The line was long for veterans wanting a handshake and book signed by Joe Galloway.

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Last year, we hosted Jack McLean, a former Marine rifleman and author of Loon, A Marine Story. He had the same kind of connection and reception from an appreciative audience. Jack and Joe have set the bar pretty high for speakers at this particular Memorial!

Joe is kept busy with speaking engagements. He is also one of the driving forces behind the national commemoration 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War which will take place in small towns and villages across the nation next year. The Vietnam vets will, at long last, be getting the parades they deserved years ago. http://www.vietnamwar50th.com/

A couple things that I picked up from Joe. He is proud of his association with the military of the United States. He loves service members. He wears his cavalry hat and Bronze Star with  a V device (the only civilian so honored by the Army) with pride. At the same time, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone more vociferously anti-war than Joe Galloway. And I think that those two positions are linked.IMG_1017

I do not presume to put words in his mouth so read his books for yourself. His website is http://www.lzxray.com

As an aside, there is a great article in the Vietnam Veterans of America Magazine at http://vvaveteran.org/34-3/34-3_angelfire.html about this Memorial, the first Vietnam Memorial in the United States.