Military News

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Cops and Veterans

Editor's Note: All three police authors are former servicemembers.

April 3, 2008 (San Dimas, CA) Police-Writers.com is a website that lists state and local police officers who have written books. Each of the police officers newly listed on the website is also a former servicemember.

In 1954,
Robbie Waters enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, completing his tour of duty in 1957. In 1958, he joined the Sacramento Police Department. His law enforcement career with the Sacramento Police Department included assignments in patrol, detectives, and administrative functions. Retiring at the rank of lieutenant, he was elected sheriff of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

In addition to serving as a member of the
law enforcement community for over 28 years, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology from California State University at Sacramento. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He retired from the Sacrament County Sheriff’s Department in 1987 and was subsequently elected to the Sacramento City Council. Robbie Waters is the author of An Introduction to Law Enforcement.

Arthur Knuckey was a Hospital Corpsman in the United States Navy. Discharged in 1951, he returned to his life as a professional rodeo cowboy. In 1954, he joined the San Bernardino Police Department (California), retired 22 years later at the rank of lieutenant. A law school graduate, he was ultimately appointed as a Superior Court Commissioner in 1988 and retired in 1999. He is the author of Me and Other Great Hunters: A Humorous Look at True Events in the Sport of Hunting; Recollections of a Rodeo Cowboy: We May Not Have Been; and, The Odor of Death.

According to the book description of The Odor of Death, “With its cast full of brawny, bright, and beautiful characters, this book is a thrill a minute! The Odor of Death is a must for anyone who loves a modern adventure. The author has crafted a compelling and thoroughly entertaining story that includes wonderfully accurate depictions of cowboys, cops, and civilians.”

Richard Carlson is a veteran of the US Army and who joined the San Diego Police Department in 1969. During his 35 year law enforcement career, Richard Carlson worked patrol, crime prevention and detectives. He spent eight years a homicide detective and five years assigned to the Violent Crime Task Force. Richard Carlson is the author of I'm in the Tub, Gone.

According to the book description of I'm in the Tub, Gone, “We now live in a time of comfort, convenience and opportunity such as mankind has never known. With all the great things we are provided, we also get many side effects that some thrive on and others do not welcome. Some of these are expectations, added or unwanted responsibility, inconvenience, or extreme supervision to name a few. We all deal with these pressures in a different manner. Then we add another factor, our personal lives. Most people have the ultimate goal to make their personal lives better. We want a happy, normal life at home, no matter what our status is in the community. Some choose suicide as an option to get relief. These are true stories of those final thoughts. Could they have been helped? We will never know. Can we help others in desperate need? Maybe, if we provide a little kindness and understanding. At least we can try.”

Police-Writers.com now hosts 921
police officers (representing 390 police departments) and their 1931 police books in 33 categories, there are also listings of United States federal law enforcement employees turned authors, international police officers who have written books and civilian police personnel who have written books.

NATO Summit Participants Wrap Up Busy Second Day

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

April 3, 2008 - The second day of NATO's summit conference wrapped up here today with clear support for more troops in Afghanistan, a missile defense system for Europe and the hopes of eventually adding at least five more countries to the alliance. It was a day of extended, hours-long, closed sessions in which NATO members went "off script" and passionately debated the language of communiqués and declarations that would map out the direction of the alliance for years to come.

It was a "fine day for NATO," according to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"I think that it was, for me, affirming of the decision to expand this alliance; it was affirming of the decision to keep new blood coming into the alliance, especially new blood of people who understand what it was to live under tyranny and now are breathing freedom and liberty with a kind of gusto and enjoyment that perhaps only those who have been denied it can have," Rice said.

Rice was joined at the news conference by National
Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.

"People really got off script," Hadley said. "You know, the characterization of these meetings is people sitting around a table reading prepared talking points. In the discussions today, people talked with a first person and a passion that was interesting."

In the end, NATO issued a summit declaration in which it:

-- Invited Albania and Croatia to begin accession talks with NATO;

-- Named the mission in Afghanistan its "top priority;"

-- Acknowledged for the first time that ballistic missile proliferation poses an increasing threat to the allies; and

-- Agreed to work with Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro in their quest for NATO membership.

NATO also invited Serbia to begin a dialogue with the alliance.

The declaration said that "Euro-Atlantic and wider international
security is closely tied to Afghanistan's future as a peaceful, democratic state," and asserted that the alliance would not allow extremists and terrorists to regain control of Afghanistan or use it as a base for terror.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced his country would send another battalion of troops to help in Afghanistan. The troops will be added to the eastern provinces of the country, allowing U.S. troops, who have been successful at squelching the troubles there, to move to the embattled southern provinces.

Also, Hadley said, another dozen or so allies have pledged contributions. He said that it will be about three weeks before the final numbers of troops dedicated to the region can be tallied, but that the commitment would meet the Canadian parliament's demands that allies provide at least 1,000 more troops and equipment to the region in order for it to keep its 2,500 troops there.

In a show of support to the International
Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, NATO also committed to building an equipped Afghan army to 80,000 troops by 2010.

"Bottom line, a good day on Afghanistan," Hadley said. "NATO has adopted a vision statement to explain the mission and the importance of the mission to their publics. They have developed and integrated a plan for integrating political and
military instruments in order to try and achieve success there."

NATO pledged to invite Macedonia to join the alliance as soon as it can work through the dispute over its name with its neighbor, Greece. Greece objects to using the name Macedonia, saying it implies claims on a Greek province of the same name.

"We encourage negotiations to be resumed without delay, and expect them to be concluded as soon as possible," the declaration reads.

NATO reaffirmed both its open-door policy and its plans for developing a missile defense strategy in its declaration, which said that "far from posing a threat to our relationship, (those efforts) offer opportunities to deepen levels of cooperation and stability."

Russia has opposed U.S. plans to place radars in the Czech Republic and Poland. The United States wants to develop a long-range missile defense system complimented by a NATO-led, short- and medium-range missile defense system.

"The NATO allies ... asked Russia to stop its criticism of the alliance effort and to join in the cooperative efforts that have been offered to it by the United States," Rice said. She called the declaration a "breakthrough document for missile defense for the alliance." Russian President Vladimir Putin meets tomorrow with the NATO-Russian Council.

In the declaration, NATO said it would explore ways to link the United States' proposed capability to current NATO-wide missile defense architecture. NATO tasked the North Atlantic Council, its main governing body, to develop options for a comprehensive plan for review at the alliance's 2009 summit.

The declaration also reiterated the allies' commitment to supporting the government of Iraq and agreed to extend the NATO training mission there through 2009.

Navy to Christen The USNS Amelia Earhart

The Navy will launch and christen the USNS Amelia Earhart at a 9 p.m. PDT ceremony on April 6, 2008. The christening ceremony for the newest ship in the Lewis and Clark (T-AKE) class of underway replenishment ships will be held at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego.

Designated as T-AKE 6, the new ship honors aviation pioneer Amelia Mary Earhart for her courage, vision and groundbreaking achievements, both in aviation and for women.

Earhart's name became a household word in 1932 when she became the first woman -- and second person -- to fly solo across the Atlantic, flying from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Londonderry, Ireland. That year, she received the Distinguished Flying Cross from the U.S. Congress, the Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French government, and the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society from President Herbert Hoover. In January 1935, Earhart became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean from Honolulu to
Oakland, Calif. Later that year she soloed from Los Angeles to Mexico City and back to Newark, N.J. In July 1936, Earhart took delivery of a Lockheed 10E "Electra," financed by Purdue University, and started planning her around-the-world flight.

Rep. Susan A. Davis, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Earhart's niece, Amy Kleppner, will serve as ship's sponsor. The launching ceremony will include the time-honored
Navy tradition when the sponsor breaks a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship "Amelia Earhart."

The USNS Amelia Earhart is the sixth ship in the
Navy's 11-ship T-AKE class. The ship will directly contribute to the ability of the Navy to maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel, and other dry cargo to U.S. and allied ships at sea. The ship is designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea and can carry and support two helicopters to conduct vertical replenishment.

As part of
Military Sealift Command's (MSC) Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force,the USNS Amelia Earhart is designated as a United States Naval Ship (USNS) and will be crewed by 124 civil service mariners working for Military Sealift Command's. The ship will also have a military detachment of 11 U.S. Navy sailors to provide supply coordination.

One previous ship has been named for Earhart. The SS Amelia Earhart was a Liberty ship built in the U.S. during
World War II.

Additional information about this class of ship is available on line at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=4400&tid=500&ct=4.

Tactics and Fiction

Editor's Note: One of the authors is a former servicemember.

April 3, 2008 (San Dimas, CA) Police-Writers.com is a website that lists state and local
police officers who have written books.

Special Agent
Ronald Adams, Riverside Police Department (California), retired, is a 28 year veteran, of law enforcement and a widely known and recognized as an expert in police officer safety and survival. He is the co-author of Street Survival: Tactics for Armed Encounters.

Peter Wright is a retired detective from the Redlands Police Department (California). Peter Wright is the author of The Iron Dog.

According to the book description, “The Iron Dog case follows the abduction and assault of a seventeen-year-old highschool girl and the hunt for the suspects by Barton Keene, a former San Francisco
homicide detective, and his two close friends, Buddy Bigfeather, a grape grower in the California wine country, and Denton Tuggle, a local cop. Keene’s pursuit of the outlaw gang that kidnapped Tonya Charbonneau eventually includes murders, crime scene investigations, airplane crashes, and autopsies.”

Charlie Staump is a retired investigator from the Orange County Sheriff's Department in California. After 8 years in the Marine Corps and 18 years in law enforcement he found himself in the unenviable position of being retired at the age of 43 because of health problems. In an attempt to keep busy, he organized and directed an eighteen-piece swing band which was comprised of many veterans of the famous big bands of the forties and fifties. He also started a little business of making miniatures which he sold throughout the country. Charlie Staump is the author of The Calico Incident and The Lady of Goldstone.

According to the book description of The Calico Incident, “In the year of 1988 Johnny M. Johnson, a retired deputy Sheriff in San Bernardino, California, takes a job as an actor-gunfighter in the ghost town of Calico. He was well aware of the history of that old mining town and the rumors of its reported ghostly legends. Johnny had a personal connection to Calico that went back one hundred years. He had no idea that this connection would come back to haunt both he and his partner.”

Police-Writers.com now hosts 918
police officers (representing 390 police departments) and their 1926 police books in 32 categories, there are also listings of United States federal law enforcement employees turned authors, international police officers who have written books and civilian police personnel who have written books.

Security Sector Reform in Liberia: Mixed Results from Humble Beginnings

The author presents an explanatory overview and analysis of progress made with the process of security sector reform in Liberia--with particular reference to the armed forces and the police. The author begins with a concise review of what the theory of SSR and its application in the Liberian context and follows with a description of Liberia’s post-war security architecture and the urgent need for a comprehensive and sustained process of reform. An overview of the legal and conceptual framework for engaging in SSR in Liberia is provided as further backdrop to substantive sections dealing with the reform (or re-building) of the Armed Forces of Liberia and the Liberia National Police. The author concludes with a critical analysis of the SSR process and recommendations for further action.

READ ON
http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?PubID=855

The Political Context Behind Successful Revolutionary Movements, Three Case Studies: Vietnam (1955-63), Algeria (1945-62), and Nicaragua (1967-79)


Following the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the new world order did not bring about a closure of revolutionary warfare. In fact, the Soviet-inspired wars of liberation against imperialism have been eclipsed by reactionary, jihadist wars. By all indications in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Somalia, and Iraq, Islamic militants have embraced revolutionary warfare, although not Mao’s People’s War model. Therefore, a study of revolutionary warfare is apt because the conflict between the West and radical jihadism will continue to take place in dysfunctional, collapsing, or failed states. The author examines the political-
military lessons from these conflicts and suggests that the United States should minimize the level and type of assistance to states fighting in an insurgency because these states possess greater advantages than previously supposed.

READ ON
http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?PubID=851

Drug Intoxicated Irregular Fighters: Complications, Dangers, and Responses

The presence of drugged fighters is not unknown in the history of warfare. Yet widespread drug use on the battlefield is now part of protracted conflicts largely fought by nonprofessional combatants that take place in an international system characterized by the process of globalization. From marijuana, khat, hallucinogenic mushrooms, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine to looted pharmaceuticals, irregular fighters have found a ready supply of narcotics to consume for a variety of combat purposes. Such consumption has led to unpredictable fighting, the commission of atrocities, and to the prolongation of internal violence. The presence of intoxicated combatants will continue to be a feature of armed conflict and requires a fuller accounting to adequately prepare policymakers and military planners for future conflicts.

READ ON
http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?PubID=850

NATO Offers Membership to Two of Three Balkan Candidates

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Romania, April 3, 2008 - NATO formally offered membership today to two of the three Balkan nations President Bush had strongly advocated for acceptance. Albania and Croatia were accepted by the 26 other NATO members to begin the accession process after hours-long discussions of the North Atlantic Council, NATO's principal decision-making body, this morning.

"Both these nations have demonstrated the ability and the willingness to provide strong and enduring contributions to NATO," Bush said at a meeting of the council in which representatives of the candidate nations were present. "Both have undertaken challenging political, economic and defense reforms. Both have deployed their forces on NATO missions. Albania and Croatia are ready for the responsibility NATO brings, and they will make outstanding members of this alliance," he said.

Greece blocked Macedonia, the third Balkan nation under consideration, from receiving an invitation to join. Greece objects to the nation using the name Macedonia, saying it implies claims on a Greek province of the same name.

U.S. National
Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, in a briefing after the meetings to the White House traveling press, said NATO agrees that Macedonia "clearly" is ready for NATO membership, but that a mutually accepted name should be resolved between the two countries before an invitation to membership is extended.

"We regret that we were not able to reach consensus today to invite Macedonia to join the alliance," Bush said. "Macedonia has made difficult reforms at home. It is making major contributions to NATO missions abroad. The name issue needs to be resolved quickly, so that Macedonia can be welcomed into NATO as soon as possible."

Bush said NATO needs to intensify its engagement with Macedonia to ensure it becomes a member.

"Albania, Croatia and Macedonia all know the difference between good and evil, because they clearly remember evil's face," Bush said. "These nations do not take their freedom for granted, because they still remember life without it. These nations respect the hard work of building democracy, because they brought it to life in their countries."

In other NATO issues, Georgia and Ukraine were not invited to start the membership action plan, a necessary step toward membership. Hadley said a strong consensus is in place within the alliance that the two former Soviet republics eventually will join NATO, but the timing of starting the plan is in question.

Some members questioned whether the democratic reforms in the two countries have taken root and their political systems are stable, Hadley said. Also, Georgia has unresolved disputes with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he said.

Still, NATO members agreed to a strongly worded statement that "NATO welcomes Ukraine and Georgia's Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO," Hadley said.

"That's a very strong statement, giving them a clear prospect of NATO membership," he said.

Instead of starting the MAP process with the two countries, NATO opted instead to step up its engagement with the countries, and their status will be reassessed in December. NATO's foreign ministers will decide then whether Georgia and Ukraine have made sufficient progress to begin the membership action plan. The decision does not have to go back to NATO for consensus, Hadley said.

"Would we have preferred to have MAP today? Of course. Do we think we achieved the strategic decision we needed from the NATO alliance that these countries will be members of NATO? Absolutely," Hadley said.

Two other countries moved toward eventual membership during the talks today.

NATO agreed that an "intensified dialogue" should begin with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. Both are considered in the "Partnership for Peace" stage of working toward membership. Intensified dialogue is the stage just before being invited to begin the membership action plan. NATO also agreed that an intensive dialogue would be offered to Serbia.

In other news from the NATO summit conference, a communiqué is expected to come from the meetings today delivering what U.S. officials wanted on the issue of missile defense, a senior administration official said, speaking on background. The United States expects a NATO endorsement of its missile defense plan in Europe, as well as plans to develop a NATO-run short- and medium-range missile defense system, the official said.

The statement is expected to say that ballistic missile proliferation poses an increasing threat to allies' forces, territory and populations. Also, it is expected to task the heads of state with developing a plan for the NATO missile defense architecture to bring back to the 2009 summit.

Missile defense was not a specific agenda item for the summit, but is expected to be discussed through the day and tomorrow, when Russian President Vladimir Putin joins the talks tomorrow for the NATO-Russian Council. Putin has expressed concern over U.S. plans for the missile defense system, and officials have been working to ease his concerns that the system could be used against Russia.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced in the early meetings his country would send another battalion of troops to help in Afghanistan. The troops will deploy to the eastern provinces of the country, allowing U.S. troops, who have been successful at squelching problems there, to move to the embattled southern provinces.

The Canadian parliament had agreed to extend Canada's troops in the south only if allies provided more resources. Other countries are expected to announce troop increases.

Department to Phase Out Full Social Security Numbers on IDs

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

April 3, 2008 - As a means of combating
identity theft, the Defense Department will issue identification cards without full Social Security numbers printed onto them, a senior official said here today. The Defense Department cares about protecting personal information as well as increasing database security, Mary Dixon, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center based in Arlington, Va., told Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service reporters.

Identity theft is a very real problem today, Dixon explained. Criminals who pilfer SSN-bearing identity cards can virtually assume someone's identity through a few computer keystrokes and clicks of a mouse, she said.

TriCare, the
military services' health maintenance organization, already has removed Social Security numbers from its members' identification cards, Dixon said.

Plans are to remove the Social Security numbers from identification cards issued to
military family members by the end of this year, Dixon said, noting that those cards still would display the sponsors' SSN, for now. Between 2009 and 2010, all department-issued identification cards will feature only the last four digits of a holder's Social Security number, she said.

About 3.4 million people now have department-issued common access cards, Dixon said. Around two-thirds of those card holders are
military members, and some civilians who deploy overseas, who have full Social Security numbers printed onto the back of their CACs.

"You might lose that card," Dixon pointed out, noting that family members, including children, could misplace their identification cards, too.

Modern information
technology precludes the need to have full social security numbers printed onto employee and family member ID cards, Dixon said.

"Today, all of our (
computer) systems can 'talk' to each other, so we don't necessarily need to know all of that information printed on your card," she said.

New identification cards will be issued as they reach their expiration dates, Dixon said.

Senior Citizen Hits Slopes to Inspire Younger Disabled Vets

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 2, 2008 - Seventy-four-year-old Bob Eiden stood on a snow bank overlooking Snowmass Mountain yesterday, mentally preparing himself for his first experience on skis, 16 months after having his right leg amputated. "I'm scared to death," admitted Eiden, an
Air Force Korean War veteran who is joining about 400 other disabled veterans for his first National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. "But I'm going to do this, because I want to be an example for the younger people."

Eiden broke his leg in two places sliding into home plate during a pickup softball game while he was assigned to Strategic Air Command in Topeka, Kan. That was in 1957, decades before many of the troops he hopes to inspire here were born.

After eight surgeries, the most recent one to remove his leg, Eiden said he finally feels liberated from the pain that haunted him for 43 years. "It was the best thing that ever happened to me," he said.

Now, despite failing eyesight and hearing, Eiden said he's ready to push himself to new limits on the mountain. It's a way to prove something not only to himself and his son, but just as importantly, to younger veterans he said he hopes to inspire.

Eiden remembers all too clearly what it felt like to be cut down in his prime by a freak accident, and said he sees a lot of the same emotions he felt in combat-wounded troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Some come back depressed; they don't want to do anything but sit in a wheelchair. They think that their life is over," he said. "Well, I'm here to show them that there's still life after a disability. I hope my being here will show other people that their life isn't over."

Eiden is an active member of Disabled American Veterans, serving as its chapter commander in Nampa,
Idaho. He said he's proud of the DAV's role in supporting disabled veterans, including cosponsoring the winter sports clinic with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"It's important that we recognize our disabled veterans and look out for their needs," he said.

A big part of that, he said, is helping disabled veterans realize what they're still able to do. Eiden remembers how it felt to have his family clamor to protect him and do things for him. What he really needed at the time, he said, was to learn how to become independent in his new circumstances.

"Disabled people want to be able to do things themselves," he said. "They need to know that, 'I'm still a whole man,' or 'I'm still a whole woman.'

"Being here at the winter sports clinic, putting on those skis and going down that mountain is one way of proving that."

Newly Wounded Warriors Experience 'Miracles on the Mountainside'

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

April 2, 2008 - Less than six months ago,
Army Pfc. Michael Dinkel had his leg destroyed by a roadside bomb while he was deployed to Afghanistan with the Fort Riley, Kan.-based 70th Engineer Battalion. Today, still a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Dinkel is shimmying down the slopes of Snowmass Mountain, refusing to let a disability stand in the way of a good time -- or a full, productive life. "I'm having a blast!" exclaimed 27-year-old Dinkel as he took a break after another run down the mountainside. "This is something I dreamed about!"

Dinkel is among several active-duty troops who have joined nearly 400 disabled veterans here for the 22nd National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. Together, they're experiencing what event organizers describe as "Miracles on the Mountainside" as they try their hands at Alpine and Nordic skiing, rock climbing, scuba diving, trapshooting, snowmobiling, sled hockey, curling, fencing and a host of other activities.

In doing so, they're demonstrating that an amputation, spinal cord injury, visual impairment or other severe disability doesn't have to stop them in their tracks, explained Sandy Trombetta, who came up with the concept of the winter sports clinic and serves as its national director.

Dinkel never took much convincing that an amputation didn't have to keep him from his longtime love of skiing. "Three months after I got blown up, I went skiing," said Dinkel, recalling a trip to Windham Mountain, N.Y., organized through Walter Reed. His next ski trip was to Liberty Mountain ski resort in Pennsylvania, where he continued to fine-tune his technique with adaptive skis.

Here at Snowmass Mountain, Dinkel is a world away from the surgeries still ahead of him at Walter Reed over the next six to seven months before he's able to return to his native
Cincinnati, Ohio.

But in reality, the six-day winter sports clinic is a big part of Dinkel's and other disabled veterans' rehabilitation, said Lisette Mondello, assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs for public and intergovernmental affairs.

"This is a rehabilitative event. It's not about a week of camaraderie and ski lessons," she said. "It's about taking someone who's had a catastrophic injury and saying, 'Now is the time to move on. Your life isn't over. It's time to start again.'"

Edward Hartman, Disabled American Veterans' national director for voluntary services, agreed that the clinic is a valuable first step toward disabled veterans' moving forward with their lives. "This is just an introduction to what they can do and what the possibilities are for them," he said. "This event helps make them realize that their life doesn't end with their disability."

Vance Pease, a recreational therapist at the VA center in
Seattle who specializes in spinal cord injuries, said he's witnessed firsthand the benefits the clinic has brought to the disabled veterans he works with. "This can open so many doors and show the veterans that there are so many opportunities out there for them," he said. "It's showing to these veterans that life goes on. The challenge, the thrill, the adventure, the risk -- all of it is still there for them if they want it."

Not everyone arrives at the winter sports clinic quite as mentally prepared as Dinkel for the challenges, thrills, adventure and risk they'll face here. Harry Williamson, a Vietnam-era
Marine Corps veteran suffering from multiple sclerosis, admitted he had some trepidation about his first time down the slope in an adaptive sit-ski.

"I'm nervous," said the
Long Beach, Calif., native. "But I'm going to give it a try. I'm going to see if I can do it, to see if I can master it. And if I do, that's another challenge I tried and I conquered."

Conquering challenges on the mountainside is a metaphor for conquering life challenges with a disability, clinic organizers explained. For about one-third of the veterans here for the first time, the clinic offers an opportunity to push themselves in ways many never thought imaginable.

Marine Cpl. Steve Schulz was serving his second tour in Iraq in April 2005 when an improvised explosive device in Fallujah left him blind in his right eye and suffering a traumatic brain injury.

Three years and 17 surgeries later, 23-year-old Schulz said he's attending his first winter sports clinic to recapture some of the thrill the roadside bomb stripped from his life. "I like going fast," said Schulz, lamenting that his brain injury has left him unable to drive.

So as volunteers at the winter sports clinic strapped him into a sit-ski for his first whirl down Snowmass Mountain, Schulz was looking forward to feeling the wind in his face and the blur of spectators' faces as they cheered him down the mountain.

Darol Kubacz, a 33-year-old
Army veteran rendered a paraplegic 15 years ago during a training accident at Fort Knox, Ky., said he remembers being in Schultz' shoes when he attended his first clinic a year after his injury.

Kubacz skied for the first time here and fell so in love with the sport that he moved to Vail, Colo., and ultimately became an adaptive ski instructor. "It changed my life," he said.

But Kubacz said the clinic gave him something far more powerful than just a new activity to pursue -- and it's kept him coming back year after year, 13 times. "There's so much that goes on here, on so many levels," he said. "It's about brotherhood. It's about great people. It's about great physical and emotional experiences.

"But most of all, it's about positive mental attitude," he said. "That's what they're teaching people here. Because, when it comes down to it, the only way we are going to succeed and have fun in life is to have a positive mental attitude."

Kubacz said he gains much from sharing with fellow veterans at the clinic. As they meet at sporting activities, during meals, or at social events throughout the week, they swap stories about everything from the latest adaptive equipment to advice for navigating the VA benefits system, he said. "We educate each other on so many things on so many levels," he said.

Just as disabled Vietnam veterans guided him when he was first injured, Kubacz said, he hopes to help guide younger veterans with new disabilities suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I'm here for the new guys," he said. "I'm here to listen to them, to support them and to share motivation with them."

Hope Cooper, an
Air Force veteran who was medically retired in 1989, said she, too, hopes to share the life-changing impact the clinic had on her own life with newly wounded veterans.

Cooper said she attended her first clinic in 1991 as a withdrawn and sometimes suicidal woman struggling to come to terms with the disease that left her wheelchair-bound. But she left a new woman, with a new outlook on life that she's embraced for the past 17 years.

"Coming to this clinic made me realize that no matter what I may have lost, I didn't lose me," she said. "The core of me is still there."

Cooper said she's sharing that discovery with the newly wounded veterans attending this year's clinic. "I go around to them and let them know we're here for them," she said. "We've been through it, and what we tell these young folks is that it's not over. It's just a new program for them, and a way for them to triumph over adversity."