Wednesday, July 26, 2017


In a statement this morning, directly from his personal Twitter account, President Donald Trump shattered his predecessor's grand social experiment in the U.S. military. (Photo: President Trump speaks with General Mattis/Reuters/via Charisma News)

"After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military," he wrote. "Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."


Congressmen React to Military Transgender Ban

Washington, D.C. - July 27, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) issued the following statement condemning President Trump’s cruel and discriminatory ban on transgender military service members from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces:

“Today’s attack by the Commander-in-Chief on our military’s active duty personnel is appalling,” Representative Nadler lamented. “The arguments against allowing transgender service members to serve openly in our military reflect the same arguments that have been used against every other group that has been prohibited from serving in our country’s history – including black and Latino men, women, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. President Trump is attacking the very individuals he asks to risk their lives.”

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) released the following statement on President Trump’s tweets on transgender Americans serving in the military.

“Tens of thousands of transgender Americans have bravely and selflessly served our military, risking their lives to defend the freedoms we enjoy every day. Like all Americans, they deserve the opportunity to wear the uniform regardless of their gender identity. President Trump’s bigoted decision will make America less safe and inhibit our military readiness. It is clear that President Trump is doubling down on his policies of hatred and it is the responsibility of all Americans – especially the Congress – to stand against this injustice.”

Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a member of the House Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Equality Caucus, issued the following statement after President Donald Trump tweeted that transgender Americans will no longer be able to serve in the U.S. military:

“The President’s tweet attacking transgender service members is shameful and prejudiced. Those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country should not face discrimination from anyone, let alone their Commander in Chief. Last year, the Department of Defense implemented a policy to allow transgender troops to serve openly in the military. Today’s guidance by President Trump, if carried out by the Department of Defense, to explicitly ban people who are already serving and wish to serve our country is a huge step back in the progress we have made in the name of diversity and inclusion. As member of the House Armed Services Committee and a veteran, I value every American who is willing and able to join the U.S. military. I urge the President to reverse his guidance, and to respect and support those who protect our country regardless of their gender identity.”

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet issued the following statement in response to President Trump's tweets on banning transgender Americans from serving in the military:

"Our commander-in-chief should not ban Americans who are qualified to serve in our military and are willing to risk their lives for our country. This is an obvious attempt to distract from the Republicans' disastrous debate on health care."

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement in response to President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

“Servicemembers should be accepted on the basis of their ability to fight, train, and deploy without discrimination. Many transgender Americans have served honorably and capably – and countless others are serving now and would seek to serve in the future. President Trump should be thanking these servicemembers and veterans for their dedication and commitment to our nation instead of barring them from service. This rash and surprising Tweet contradicts the Department of Defense’s previous policy decision to allow transgender servicemembers to serve openly, and constitutes official discrimination.”

Terry Sharpe: The Walking Marine

Terry Sharpe is planning his 2017 Walk to raise awareness of the current Veteran suicide rate, which stands at 22 per day — the equivalent of one Veteran committing suicide every 65 minutes. Terry at age 66, will walk from Summerfield, NC to Washington, DC to bring attention to this terrible plight. That is a trip of 300 miles, some very hard miles, but Terry wants to bring attention to the Veteran’s Issues. Terry will be joined on his walk by Micheal Boncek who is also an avid walker devoted to drawing attention to Veteran issues.


Wisconsin retail tech company offers to microchip its staff


A Wisconsin company is offering to microchip its employees, enabling them to open doors, log onto their computers and purchase break room snacks with a simple swipe of the hand.

Three Square Market, also known as 32M, says it expects about 50 employees to take advantage of the technology. The chips are the size of a grain of rice and will be implanted underneath the skin between the thumb and forefinger.


Steve Scalise discharged a month after shooting

New York Post

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise – who was critically wounded in a shooting at a baseball practice last month – has been discharged from a Washington hospital.

MedStar Washington Hospital Center says the six-term Louisiana Republican was released from the hospital on Tuesday and is beginning “intensive inpatient rehabilitation.”

It isn’t identifying the facility.

The hospital says in a statement that Scalise (skuh-LEES’) was in good spirits and looking forward to returning to work once he completes his rehabilitation.


President Donald J. Trump Proclaims July 26, 2017, as a Day in Celebration of the 27th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act


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On the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we celebrate the landmark legislation that marks our Nation's commitment to ending discrimination against people with disabilities. The ADA's recognition of the inherent dignity of disabled persons solidified America's status as the world leader in protecting fundamental rights. Today, we pay special respect to the contributions of the more than 56 million Americans living with disabilities, and we look forward to further advancing accessibility for all those who need it.

President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA on July 26, 1990, and for 27 years it has been instrumental in protecting the rights and liberties of people with disabilities and strengthening their access to everyday American life. Disabilities are an unavoidable part of the human experience veterans injured in service to their Nation, survivors of accidents and illnesses, children born with disabilities, and our elderly. Since its inception, the ADA has helped empower people living with disabilities by ensuring they have fair and just access to employment, government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and public transportation.

Americans are justifiably proud of the ADA and its accomplishments, but more can be done to protect the rights and dignity of Americans living with disabilities. Disabled Americans in the workforce already contribute substantially to our Nation's productivity and prosperity. We must continue to empower them by breaking down obstacles that prevent their full participation in the public and economic affairs of our Nation. In addition, my Administration will encourage American ingenuity and technological advancements in medicine and science, which will give millions of Americans with disabilities opportunities to work, engage in commerce, and connect with others in ways we could not have imagined 27 years ago.

On the anniversary of the ADA, we reaffirm our commitment to fostering an environment that provides all Americans with the opportunity to pursue their American dream. Let us all take this time to refocus our efforts to support our fellow Americans and help them succeed, no matter the obstacles they may face.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 26, 2017, as a day in celebration of the 27th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that celebrate the contributions of Americans with disabilities and to renew our commitment to achieving the promise of our freedom for all Americans.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-second.


Wisconsin House Democrats Urge State Officials to Reject Presidential ‘Voter Fraud' Commission's Request for Sensitive Information

Washington, D.C. - July 26, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- In response to an appeal by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity for sensitive information on Wisconsin voters, Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04), Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02), and Congressman Ron Kind (WI-03), wrote a letter to the Wisconsin Elections Commission and Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette urging them to disregard the Commission’s request.

“Let’s call the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity what it really is: A painfully transparent attempt by President Trump to substantiate his unfounded claims about voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election,” said Congresswoman Moore. “With Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach at the helm of this Commission – the architect of several restrictive voter suppression initiatives against communities of color for which he was sued by the A.C.L.U. on four separate occasions – I fear our country will once again see an influx of discriminatory policies reminiscent of the ‘grandfather clauses’ of the Jim Crow era. I simply cannot endorse the release of sensitive voter information to a Commission led by a man whose connections to organizations deemed ‘hate groups’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center reach back over a decade.”

“More than 8 months after the 2016 election, President Trump still cannot comprehend how he lost the popular vote to Secretary Clinton. Despite his place in the White House, he is still clinging to the false claim that there was widespread voter fraud and his sham President Commission on Election Integrity only serves to perpetuate that myth,” said Congressman Pocan. “President Trump’s sham commission will be used as a tool of discrimination and voter suppression, not as a way to strengthen and secure our electoral process. Wisconsin should join states across the country in rejecting President Trump’s demands to turn over data. Our voters deserve it.”

“It is absolutely outrageous that in 2017 we still have politicians who are trying to make it harder for Wisconsinites to vote,” said Congressman Kind. “I urge the Wisconsin Elections Commission, in the strongest terms possible, to refuse requests by the Trump Administration to turn over Wisconsinites’ private information.”

“Never before has the personal voting data of so many—over 200 million Americans—been compiled and stored in one source,” the Members of Congress wrote. “The collection of this information by the Commission creates an undue risk to the privacy rights of Wisconsin voters. While we note that your current position on this matter is to supply the Commission with publically accessible data and to charge a fee for the remaining information, we caution that your decision to even partially cooperate with this inquest exposes the Wisconsin electorate to significant, irreparable harm, especially in light of allegations of extensive efforts by Russia and others to interfere in our democracy. A price should not be placed on the privacy of our constituents.”

House Passes Iran, Russia and North Korea Sanctions Bill

Washington, D.C. - July 26, 2017 (The Ponder News) --The House of Representatives approved H.R. 3364, the Countering Adversarial Nations Through Sanctions Act, by a bipartisan 419-3 vote.

U.S. Representatives Martha McSally (R-AZ) released the following statement on The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, legislation passed with overwhelming bipartisan support to increase economic and political sanctions on Iran, Russia, and North Korea:

“Iran, Russia, and North Korea are our top adversaries—threatening our national security, disrupting global stability, and defying the principles of freedom, justice, and equality that America stands to protect. The bill that we passed today with my strong support is one of the toughest sanctions packages Congress has ever passed—and also one of the most necessary. These countries are dangerous. It’s time these bad actors face consequences. Additionally, this sanctions package empowers Congress to review and disapprove of any sanctions relief extended to Russia. Congressional review in this matter is essential and appropriate.”

Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) issued the following statement:

“These sanctions put hostile regimes in Moscow, Tehran and Pyongyang on notice,” said Congressman Meehan. “For eight years under President Obama, accountability took a back seat to accommodation when it came to our adversaries on the world stage. Each of these regimes continues to pursue campaigns of aggression and belligerence, but today’s bipartisan vote shows they will not go unpunished.”

“These sanctions will hit these regimes where it will hurt, and they’ll limit our enemies’ access to the hard cash necessary to finance aggression, human rights abuses and support for terror. I’m pleased to see the legislation approved by the House and I hope the Senate acts to send it to the President’s desk for his signature promptly,” Meehan said.

Ranking Member of the Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats Subcommittee, Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, released the following statement on the House’s passage of H.R. 3346, the Russia-Iran-North Korea Sanctions Bill:

"It is quite telling that the first major bill to be sent to President Trump is one that limits his authority, because members of both parties in both houses of Congress cannot trust President Trump to act on behalf of America’s interests when it comes to Russia. Mere months ago, Trump gave away national secrets to Russian diplomats and sold out our allies in the Oval Office. With new details constantly emerging that shed light on this administration’s many lies regarding its cozy relationship with Russia, Congress voted overwhelmingly to strengthen sanctions on Russia.

“This bill sends a strong message to Russia and our allies: when the sitting President fails to do so, the US Congress will hold accountable anyone complicit in attempting to destabilize Western democracies.”

Rep. Tom O’Halleran voted pass the bipartisan Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act to impose sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

“I am pleased to see broad bipartisan support on sanctions for countries who disregard international laws and basic human rights,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “We must make it clear that the actions of these three countries will not be tolerated anywhere, and this legislation goes a long way to hold them accountable.”

The legislation makes permanent existing sanctions on Russia over the country’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine and cyber attacks in the U.S., and it implements new sanctions on Russian-financed companies involved in off-shore oil projects and individuals doing business with the Russian military or intelligence agencies. Included in the legislation are sanctions on Iran over their ballistic missile program, support of terrorist groups, and human rights violations, and it expands sanctions on the North Korean government and countries and organizations working with the Kim regime.

“Our national security and the safety of our children is not a partisan issue,” continued O’Halleran. “We must continue to curb the rise of terrorism in the Middle East by preventing the sale of arms to and from Iran and halting the country’s ballistic missile program.”

Additionally, the legislation includes a bill co-sponsored by Rep. O’Halleran that combats the funding of terror organizations and requires President Trump to develop a strategy for combatting the financing of terrorism and related forms of illicit financing.

U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) released the following statement regarding the passage of H.R. 3364, Russia, Iran and North Korea Sanctions Act.

"It speaks volumes that the first major bipartisan piece of legislation expected to come out of this Congress reins in this President’s authority. This tough package strengthens the ability of Congress to oversee the implementation of critical sanctions on some bad actors. Congress is sending a clear message to the world that we will not stand idly by as North Korea, Iran, and Russia threaten their neighbors and continue to undermine American interests at home and abroad," Rep. Pascrell said. “I call upon the Senate to pass the bill to hold these regimes accountable for their destabilizing actions and the President to then swiftly sign this sanctions package into law."

Two weeks ago, Rep. Pascrell called on House leadership to bring a legislative package of Russia sanctions up for a vote in light of remarks by a White House aide indicating the Trump Administration was preparing to return shuttered Russian compounds seized as punishment for Russia's election interference. Rep. Pascrell also authored the No Russian DACHA Act to ensure that sanctions relief only comes in exchange for Russia ceasing the behavior that prompted these sanctions.

In December, Rep. Pascrell wrote a letter to Congressional leadership asking lawmakers to take early action in the new Congress to confront Russia's geopolitical aggression. His letter stressed codification of economic sanctions against Russia for their occupation of Crimea.

Rep. Pascrell has also been closely following the growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Earlier this month, he held a roundtable discussion with Korean-Americans in his district to discuss possible legislative action, including need for increased sanctions.

Rep. Pascrell is a cosponsor of the Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act (H.R. 1698), which expands sanctions against Iran with respect to the ballistic missiles program of Iran. This bill would use targeted sanctions to try and halt Iran’s ballistic missile program, requiring the President to identify and sanction individuals and entities contributing to Iran’s ballistic missile program.


Washington, D.C. - July 26, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA), along with Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA), and Derek Kilmer (D-WA), introduced the Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act of 2017 to reauthorize the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) Program for three years. This legislation will also allow for the expansion of new programs within existing centers and the creation of entirely new teaching health centers while emphasizing the importance of establishing sustainable funding.

“Bringing more physicians to Eastern Washington is one of my top priorities,” said McMorris Rodgers. “Our rural and urban underserved communities struggle to access the medical professionals they need and Teaching Health Center programs like the Spokane Teaching Health Clinic will help create a new generation of rural doctors—trained right here in our community.”

“The benefits of Teaching Health Centers are widespread. They give aspiring primary care physicians – who are so crucial to providing personalized preventative care and ensuring health concerns are caught and treated early – the opportunity to train in a diverse setting,” said Tsongas. “And as I have seen in my own district at exceptional facilities like the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Teaching Health Centers provide communities with the next generation of physicians for their area.”

“Expanding this program is critical to addressing the shortage of primary and specialty care physicians in rural and medically underserved communities,” said Denham. “This is one practical step toward ensuring we can both train and retain physicians in areas with the greatest need, such as California’s Central Valley.”

“As fewer medical school graduates pursue careers in rural America, Teaching Health Centers provide critical health care services many families rely on,” said Valadao. “By reauthorizing the THC Graduate Medical Education (GME) Program, and prioritizing rural and medically underserved areas, our bill will ensure our most disadvantaged communities, like California’s Central Valley, have access to the primary care services they deserve.”

“Developing pragmatic solutions that address the physician shortage crisis and encourage more bright, young medical students to practice in underserved and rural communities has been a top priority for me and my congressional district,” said Dr. Ruiz. “I have seen first-hand the dire effects of a lack of providers in underserved areas in my district. I am proud to work together in a bipartisan way to introduce the Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act of 2017 that addresses the physician shortage and will help support and grow the much-needed next generation of providers in the Coachella Valley and across the nation.”

“Teaching health centers are vital to ensuring that medical professionals can get the training they require to practice in areas where they are needed,” said Kilmer. “I’m proud to be part of a bipartisan effort to keep bringing quality medical care to our rural communities. Folks shouldn’t have to spend hours in the car just to see a doctor.”

NOTE: Currently, the physician-to-population ratio in rural communities is stark. Only about 10% of physicians practice in these areas, even though almost a quarter of the population lives there. Compared to doctors who train in the traditional Medicare program, those trained at Teaching Health Centers are 82% more likely to practice primary care, 20% more likely to work in rural communities, and 55% more likely to work in underserved areas. This legislation will work to meet the needs of rural and underserved communities through access to primary care medical professionals.


Washington, D.C. - July 26, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) released the following statement after Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Republicans voted to proceed to consideration of Trumpcare:

“By voting to advance Trumpcare, Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Republicans once again affirmed their vision of less health care for Americans and more tax cuts for billionaires.

“The stakes are high. If this bill passes, millions of Americans will lose coverage, premiums will skyrocket, and people with pre-existing conditions will be priced out of health care.

“The fight to protect our health care is not over. We must keep making our voices heard against Republicans’ shameful proposals.”

Watchdog Says Psychotropic Drug Link to Military and Veteran Suicides Warrants Federal Probe

Washington, D.C. - July 26, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Despite highly touted efforts to curb the suicide rate among active-duty service members and veterans, suicides remain high and the mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights International (CCHR) says the Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs need to fully investigate the role of prescription psychotropic drugs in these suicides.

CCHR says an investigation of this link should not be limited to those committing suicide by drug overdose but also determine whether those killing themselves by gunshot, hanging or by other methods were taking or withdrawing from psychotropic drugs at the time. It should be a focal part of the Veterans Affairs commitment of more than $186 million in 2018 to prevent suicide, CCHR adds.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon reported that 265 active-duty service members killed themselves in 2015, continuing a trend of unusually high suicide rates that have plagued the U.S. military for at least seven years, according to USA Today. The number of suicides among troops was 145 in 2001 and began a steady increase until more than doubling to 321 in 2012.[1]

Suicide—not combat—is the leading killer of U.S. troops deployed to the Middle East to fight Islamic State militants, the Pentagon statistics showed.[2]

But according to CCHR and experts working with it, there are serious concerns about the relationship between military/veteran suicides and the increase of psychotropic drug prescriptions. According to Dr. Bart Billings, a retired Colonel and Medical Service Corps Officer in the U.S. Army, a surge of prescriptions since 2005 "coincides with the gradual increase, to this day, of suicides in the military. I feel there's a direct relationship," Billings told CNS News.[3]

In 2014, CCHR presented evidence of this to the U.S. Senate's Veteran Affairs Committee calling, then, for an inquiry into the potential violence- and suicide-inducing effects of prescribed psychiatric drugs.

That submission reported:

  • More than 110,000 Army personnel were given antidepressants, narcotics, sedatives, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs while on duty in one year.[4]
  • Between 2005 and 2011 the military increased its prescriptions of psychoactive drugs (antipsychotics, sedatives, stimulants and mood stabilizers) by almost 700 percent, according to The New York Times.[5]
    92.8 percent of the Service Members who committed suicide were male, with 39.6 percent aged between 17 and 24.
    Antidepressants prescribed Service Members and veterans carry a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "black-box" warning of "suicidality" for those younger than 25.[6]
  • The age range of 41 percent of deployed American soldiers was 18-24. Those prescribed antidepressants are at serious risk of suicide, given the black box warning.
    Further, an average of 20 veterans a day committed suicide in 2014.[7]
  • The situation has not changed, with it being reported in March this year that the Defense Suicide Prevention Office says that most who die by suicide in the military are younger than 30. About 68 percent die by the use of firearms, and almost 25 percent by hanging.[8]

  • In October 2016, The Pharmaceutical Journal reported that even healthy adults who are taking certain antidepressants have a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and violent behavior, according to the results of a systematic review. "While it is now generally accepted that antidepressants increase the risk of suicide and violence in children and adolescents (although many psychiatrists still deny this), most people believe that these drugs are not dangerous for adults. This is a potentially lethal misconception," warned the researchers, based at the Nordic Cochrane Centre and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.[9]

    Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the team said: "We found that antidepressants double the risk of suicidality and violence, and it is particularly interesting that the volunteers in the studies we reviewed were healthy adults with no signs of a mental disorder." The researchers say their results suggest that it is likely that antidepressants increase the number of suicides in people of all ages.[10]

    On May 25, 2017, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-6) introduced H.R.2652, theVeteran Overmedication Prevention Act of 2017 into Congress.[11] Thiscalls for a thorough and independent review of all suicides, violent deaths, and accidental deaths during a five-year period among veterans who received treatment furnished by the Department of Veteran Affairs during the five years leading up to their deaths. The review would be done by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine under an agreement with the VA.[12]

    CCHR says the legislation is a step in the right direction but points to the Department of Veterans Affairs saying it will increase spending on suicide prevention efforts by 7.5 percent to $186.1 million in 2018. And although a VA spokeswoman Gina Jackson calls this its "highest clinical priority,"[13] CCHR says that spending on and use of psychotropic drugs that may be driving veterans to suicide must be part of that priority.

    Add to this, Friedhelm Sandbrink, M.D., the VA's Acting National Program Director for Pain Management, reported that up to 75 percent of older veterans experience chronic pain. Such pain may be treated with opioids which carry a risk for overuse or misuse. Complicating matters is additional psychotropic drugs being prescribed with opioids.[14] Cocktails of opioids and benzodiazepines, for example, can be lethal. On August 31, 2016, the FDA announced that it was requiring changes to drug labeling, including patient information, to warn of the serious risks associated with the combined use of certain opioids and benzodiazepines. Risks include extreme sleepiness, respiratory depression, coma and death. "It is nothing short of a public health crisis when you see a substantial increase of avoidable overdose and death related to two widely used drug classes being taken together," said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D.[15]

    CCHR International has presented annual Human Rights Awards to individuals and families fighting for better treatment and care for military members and veterans—free of the influence of potentially harmful psychotropic drugs and cocktails of drugs. An example of the Award Winners is:

  • The parents of U.S. Marine Cpl Andrew R. White, 23, who died suddenly after being prescribed a "lethal cocktail of antidepressants, antipsychotics and analgesics," his father Stan White said. Mr. White and his wife, Shirley, have worked tirelessly to warn about the dangers of such prescribing. Retired California neurologist Dr. Fred Baughman Jr. supported them saying he is convinced that military doctors are overprescribing antipsychotic medications in combinations that can cause cardiac arrest, often resulting in death.[16] "The treatment of traumatized vets with psychiatric drugs is an enemy we never saw coming," Mr. White said in accepting the Human Rights Award.
  • All that Pat Mena's youngest son, Anthony (Tony), wanted to do when he graduated High School was to defend his country by joining the Air Force. He was deployed twice to Iraq and managed to dodge bullets, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs. But what he couldn't dodge was the cocktail of psychiatric drugs he was prescribed upon his return. Like so many others returning from combat, Mena suffered from insomnia, restlessness and nightmares. He also complained of severe back pain. Between January of 2008 and his death in July 2009, Mena was prescribed no less than 35 prescription drugs, including numerous antidepressants, pain killers, tranquilizers and muscle relaxers.[17] Mrs. Mena wrote of Anthony's experience in the book You'll Be Fine, Darling: Struggling with PTSD after the Trauma of War.[18] In her acceptance of CCHR's Award, she stated: "Tony would want me to say this to everyone. 'When there is something wrong, you speak up.' He would be grateful for a group like CCHR for speaking up and also being a voice for so many. Please keep telling people to question their doctors. Keep in mind that thousands of people have died from drug intoxication. On a beautiful summer morning, Tony lost the opportunity to ever see another sun rise again. Keep supporting CCHR so that as a united voice, you can ensure this never happens to others and their loved ones."
  • The Navy S.E.A.L. Foundation speaks of the S.E.A.L.'s rigorous physical training, mental discipline and innate force that ensure his place amongst "the pinnacle of elite warriors." Former S.E.A.L, Mikal Vega, twice awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor and a 22-year combat veteran, survived numerous dangerous combat operations and deployments only to be nearly killed by the cocktail of painkillers and psychiatric drugs prescribed him by military doctors. "Veterans are killing themselves at a rate of 22 a day—one every 65 minutes. They say it's because of the stresses of war, but 85 percent of military suicides never even saw combat. One in six American service members is on at least one psychiatric drug—antidepressants or powerful antipsychotics," Vega stated.[19] Speaking of CCHR's Human Rights Award and the need to inform others about adverse effects of psychotropic drugs, Vega said that this award "will serve as a reminder of the lives lost that have spurred us to action, and of our unification under the umbrella of this common cause of saving lives through the dissemination of truth."
  • Dr. Bart Billings Ph.D. is also the founder and director of the International Military and Civilian Combat Stress Conference. He was one of the first military professionals to disclose the link between psychotropic drug use and military suicides and submitted testimony to the House Veterans Affairs Committee on the link between psychiatric drugs and veteran suicide in 2010.[20] "Mental health cannot be achieved when one is given mind-altering drugs that directly interfere with their cognitive functioning, resulting in them being mentally incapable and, also in many situations, interfering with them meeting their basic human needs to survive," according Dr. Billings.[21] Dr. Billings book, Invisible Scars: How to Treat Combat Stress and PTSD without Medication, chronicles the VA & the Military's decision to use brain/mind altering medications for residual effects of combat stress, why they do it, the effects on veterans/soldiers.[22]

    CCHR encourages anyone whose family member is in the military, or who is a veteran, to consult a medical doctor if there are concerns about psychotropic prescription practices and also report any abuse to CCHR.As a nonprofit, CCHR relies on memberships and donations to carry out its mission and actions to educate others about psychotropic drug use. It produced a public benefit documentary for the Armed Forces, veterans and families, The Hidden Enemy.
  • Family Research Council Statement on Senate Vote on Motion to Proceed to Obamacare Repeal

    On Tuesday, the Senate agreed to proceed to a debate on H.R. 1628, the House-passed American Health Care Act of 2017. In order for the Senate to debate the important elements of Obamacare's repeal and replacement, senators needed first to support a procedural motion to begin consideration of H.R. 1628. Family Research Council (FRC) scored in favor of the motion to proceed to H.R. 1628.

    Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement:

    "Finally, the U.S. Senate has taken a crucial step toward repealing Obamacare, redirecting dollars away from the abortion giant Planned Parenthood and putting America's healthcare system on a path to recovery. For more than 7 years, Republicans have promised the American people that they would repeal Obamacare, they did so in 2015, and now Congress finally has a president who will put his signature on the legislation.

    "Family Research Council supported beginning debate on this health care legislation in order to get to amendments to repeal Obamacare with its massive expansion of subsidies for health care plans that cover elective abortion, to defund abortion organizations from mandatory spending programs and pull back on this onerous law that has harmed so many families. The motion to proceed was only the first step, and now senators need to support amendments to rid America of the moral, regulatory, and cost burden that the so-called 'Affordable' Care Act has been.

    "We owe a deep debt of gratitude to the many Members of Congress who make the protection of unborn children in the context of health care reform a high priority. The eyes of the pro-life movement are now intensely focused on the U.S. Senate as they vote on amendments to repeal Obamacare and replace it without also subsidizing elective abortion. We strongly support amendments to ensure that, if abortion funding protections on credits are struck on procedural grounds, that Americans' tax dollars are redirected in a way that does not subsidize abortion coverage.

    "We strongly oppose any amendments to continue funding for abortion organizations, such as Planned Parenthood. It's the moral responsibility of Republican senators to support the repeal bill and fulfill their campaign promises that helped them secure the congressional majority," concluded Perkins.

    AARP Statement on Senate Vote to Proceed on Health Care Bill

    Washington, D.C. - July 26, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- In response to the Senate vote on the motion to proceed to consider a health care bill that would cut Medicare and Medicaid and impose an Age Tax on older Americans, AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond released the following statement:

    "AARP is disheartened that a majority of Senators voted to move forward on a bill that would devastate millions of Americans. Today's vote means the Senate is one step closer to passing legislation that will price gouge people over age 50 and strip health insurance from tens of millions of Americans.

    "AARP will continue fighting to stop the Senate from passing any bill that increases costs, imposes an Age Tax, strips coverage from people, cuts Medicare, and cuts the Medicaid services seniors need to stay in their homes.

    "Any Senator considering voting for the health care bill should understand the consequences of ignoring AARP's 38 million members. People over age 50 overwhelmingly vote and they will remember who voted to give them a $13,000 premium hike. AARP will print every Senator's vote in AARP Bulletin, a publication read by 30.4 million people.

    "None of the current bills is the right way to fix health care. AARP stands ready to work with Congress on bipartisan solutions that will lower costs and improve care."

    AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name.

    Statement By Secretary John F. Kelly On Texas Smuggling Incident

    Washington, D.C. - July 26, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Statement By Secretary John F. Kelly On Texas Smuggling Incident:

    This tragedy demonstrates the brutality of the network of which I often speak. These smugglers have no regard for human life and seek only profits. The Department of Homeland Security and its partners in the U.S., Mexico and Central America will continue to root out these smugglers, bring them to justice and dismantle their networks.

    The dedicated men and women of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement not only investigate and help prosecute horrific incidents like this but they and their U.S. Customs and Border Protection colleagues work hard day and night, 365 days a year, to prevent senseless deaths and injuries like these. They put their lives on the line to rescue and save the lives of those who attempt the treacherous journey north on the network of abuse and death.

    The Senate’s Latest Obamacare Replacement Effort will not improve the Nation’s Health, Affordable Care Act

    Washington, D.C. - July 26, 2017 (The Ponder News) --The below is a statement from John Auerbach, president and CEO, of Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) on the Senate’s motion to proceed.

    “Each new iteration of Obamacare repeal legislation has failed to do what a health bill should: improve the nation’s health.

    We know—according to the Congressional Budget Office’s scores on any number of the attempted bills—that tens of millions of people will quickly lose access to health insurance and the preventive services and programs which keep them from developing debilitating and costly chronic diseases.

    That is, simply, the opposite of what a bill—intended to improve the nation’s health—should do.

    Continued attempts to eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund would irreparably harm the nation’s health. States and communities rely on the hundreds of millions of dollars they receive annually to work on the critical health issues—including the opioid epidemic, lead poisoning, obesity, tobacco use and vaccine-preventable illnesses—facing their citizens.

    To date, any funding included in repeal legislation for the opioid crisis has been nowhere near enough to solve the problem and will not make up for the substantially larger cuts to Medicaid and the Prevention Fund.

    Estimates have found that the total coverage cost for people receiving treatment for substance misuse disorders could reach $220 billion over the next decade. And, people with substance misuse disorders often suffer from additional health problems – for example, mental illness and chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes – and need the routine access to care and services provided by Medicaid. As such, substance misuse treatment must remain part of the Medicaid integrated care system.

    TFAH encourages the Administration and Congress to start over and create a true healthcare bill that will improve upon Obamacare, keep people covered and safeguard the nation’s health.”

    Trust for America’s Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.

    =====Event Announcement=====

    School Choice Debate to be held August 3!

    RNC Statement on Senate Health Care Bill

    Washington, D.C. - July 26, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel released the following statement on the Senate's vote on the motion to proceed towards Obamacare repeal:

    "Republicans answered President Trump's call, taking another step towards fulfilling our promise to the American people to implement a better health care system," said Chairwoman McDaniel. "As Obamacare continues to collapse, millions of Americans are suffering from skyrocketing costs and crumbling marketplaces, yet Democrats continue to obstruct and resist. It is unfortunate that not a single Democrat agreed to proceed to vote on any fixes whatsoever to this disastrous Obamacare law. It’s time for the political games by Democrats to end. Americans deserve better.”