CombatCounselor

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Welcome to CombatCounselor Chronicle, an E-zine dedicated to giving you the most current, pertinent information on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based CBT available.

Chris Sorrentino, a.k.a CombatCounselor, is a leader and expert in cognitive behavioral therapy. He combines 30 years of experience in psychology with the discipline from having served as a U.S. Air Force officer for 20 years, 4 of those in combat zones, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 2005.

The Leader in Military and Veteran Psychology ... Follow Me to Mental Health!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Billion$ Wasted on Fraudulent Contractors Annually and CONGRESS TAKES FROM MILITARY RETIREES?


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Is The Voice's Will Champlin Just Shy or Is There More To It?

Is Will Champlin, the very talented contestant and finalist on this season’s NBC’s The Voice, just very shy or does he possibly struggle with what has been referred to until recently as Asperger’s Syndrome? Could NBC, The Voice, or Will himself be waiting until the season is over to make an announcement, not wanting to influence fan voting either positively or negatively?

As a licensed professional counselor with over 30 years experience as a clinician and experience working with and treating those with autism, I would personally not be surprised. If Will did have Asperger’s Disorder (now referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder in the new DSM-V) or another form of autism, all I could say is BRAVO! Not because I would ever wish something as debilitating as autism on anyone, but because he could make an excellent ambassador and role model for those individuals and families struggling with autism and other mental health concerns and obviously overcame great odds to achieve the success he has on The Voice. That could potentially have a massive impact on the elimination of the many negative stigmas surrounding not just autism, but all mental disorders, something I have personally been fighting very hard to achieve.

I am not going to detail the differences between DSM-IV-TR and DSM-V diagnoses here as that would take many pages and is not really relevant to this discussion. Let it suffice to say that whether we call it “Asperger’s Disorder” or “Autism Spectrum Disorder” is not important because they are both merely diagnoses, labels we as clinicians are often mandated to provide and do not define who a person is.

Will Champlin appears to be an extremely quiet person and smiles are few and far between, both symptoms of what we used to call Asperger’s and other Autism Spectrum Disorders. In-fact, Carson Daly commented for the first time just last week that it was nice to see Will finally smiling. Will also appears rather uncomfortable on stage with difficulty making eye contact. Another thing that has stood out is Will’s unwillingness, inability, or lack of comfortableness touching others. Most, if not all Voice contestants hug or otherwise touch Carson Daly after a performance or when greeting others, including their coaches and other contestants, but Will does not. 

I have seen Carson deliberately not touch Will in those situations and last week, while the very talented (and probable winner of this season’s show) Tessanne Chin and James Wolpert (who was eliminated last week), Adam Levine’s two other finalists, were holding each other tightly while waiting for the announcement of whom would be moving on to the #VoiceFinale, Will Champlin stood alone and emotionless. These are all symptoms of the Autism Spectrum Disorders, a very few symptoms of a very complex set of criteria we use to make diagnoses.

I do not know Will Champlin and do not have enough information to make a diagnosis, nor should I. Maybe he is just a very shy person or maybe he struggles with autism. All I am saying is that based on the behaviors I witnessed during this season of The Voice, he could be one of the millions of people who struggle with the developmental disorder we refer to as “autism”. 

Autism comes in many forms and varies wildly in severity, as do all of what we in the profession call “mental disorders”. Whether Will Champlin has a diagnosable disorder or not cannot and will not be determined here nor would it define him. However, an influential person with Asperger’s, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or whatever label we as humans feel the need to put on people with symptoms of social discomfort, could bring positive awareness to the struggles the millions of people with mental health issues suffer through each and every day.

I have written extensively about the stigmas surrounding mental disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression, both in general and specifically in the military. My goal here is to help eliminate those stigmas and the many misconceptions the public has regarding mental disorders and mental health treatment. 

The winner of this season’s The Voice has not been announced as I write this and believe Tessanne Chin will likely win. But I am pulling for Will Champlin mostly because I would like Will to succeed on the Voice and in life. 

Good luck Will!

Key Words: NBC, television, The Voice, voice, Will Champlin, Carson Daly, show TV, singing, song, talent, Asperger's, autism, spectrum, disorder, CombatCounselor, combat, counselor, psychology, therapy

Copyright 2013 - CombatCounselor and 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 14, 2013

CombatCounselor Q&A

QUESTION:

PenePan @PenePan
11/13/13 Once immersed in therapy how to judge if ur pain and anguish is therapeutic or just painful/therapist not a good fit?

ANSWER: Facing and enduring painful #thoughts and #emotions is part of #therapy. If you continue to get worse, something's wrong.  There's normally a #HoneymoonEffect followed by a short downturn, then gradual improvement with minor set-backs from time to time. If you don't see gradual improvement over 3-4 consecutive sessions, it may be time to find a new therapist !


Here's an article on finding a good therapist: 


This article tells you everything you need to know AND ASK when looking for a TRUE COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPIST:


C.T. Sorrentino, LtCol, USAF (Ret)
aka CombatCounselor

Key Words: The rap question answer pain anguish twitter Facebook combat counselor CombatCounselor psychology psychotherapy blogger emotion thought mindfulness

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Online Therapy: Boon or Bust?

In a modern world with technology making it easier and easier to communicate across the street or around the planet, we as psychotherapists face uncharted ground and ethically borderline situations when communicating with clients. I see people who call themselves "therapists" on Twitter and other social networking sites offering therapy via email and Skype (to name just two potential platforms) ... AND THAT CONCERNS ME!

Based on my experience, education, and knowledge of clinical ethical standards for our profession, email is "dodgy" to say the least, offering little protection for confidential communications. Skype therapy has been challenged by licensing boards and professional ethical standards (National Board of Certified Counselors, American Counseling Association, American Mental Health Counselors Association) based on state of licensure, with restrictions on whom licensed clinicians can see, particularly concerning domicile of both parties.

In Missouri and Colorado, two states in which I am licensed, licensed professional counselors (LPC) like myself ARE NOT ALLOWED to see clients outside of our state, even if it happens to be over the internet. The reasons for this are numerous, but, most importantly, the well being of our clients should be utmost in our minds. We cannot travel across state lines to see clients and, therefore, cannot travel virtually cross state lines via the internet either.

There are situations where it may be advantageous to see clients remotely, especially when a client is housebound or in geographically remote areas where face-to-face visits would be cost or time prohibitive. Otherwise, it is ALMOST ALWAYS IN THE CLIENTS BEST INTEREST to meet in person. 

Research on language has indicated that a majority of human communication is "non-verbal" with estimates ranging from 70 to 90 percent. Body language is one non-verbal mode of commuication where context is critical in understanding what is being communicated. Electronic commuications do not allow us to experience body language when discussing sensitive and often complex personal experience as is necessary when performing psychotherapy. Intonation is another non-verbal cue we use to determine what exactly is being communicated, a phenomena that is severely restricted, particularly in written communication.

Confidentiality is of utmost concern when working with clients and electronic commuications are not secure, allowing for potential exposure of extremely sensitive experiences, thoughts, and emotions. Would you want the NSA listening in on your therapy season?  I know I do not!

The individuals performing "Skype Therapy" are many times unlicensed, a fact that can easily be manipulated on websites, blogs, and social networking sites. Few understand that WE MUST BE LICSENED in the state in which we practice in order to offer psychotherapy to the public. Licensure involves AT LEAST a masters degree in psychology or counsleng, and in some cases a doctorate (PhD or PsyD) degree from an accredited institution of higher learning. On top of the degree, practicums, supervision, and post-graduate experience totaling in the thousands of hours (3,000 and up in most states) are required in addition to passing a national exam in order to become licensed. People have been "hanging shingles" for many years without proper training, education, and licensure, so why would things be any different today? 

I have preached about unlicensed and other unqualified individuals (can you say "life coach?) elsewhere in this blog, so I will not elaborate here. It will suffice to say that being "certified" is not enough. I, for example, am a National Certfied Counselor (NBCC - since 1991), but I am AND MUST BE licensed in the state in which I practice in order to LEGALLY PERFORM PSYCHOTHERAY. 

As I have also mentioned in other articles, YOU MUST CHECK AN INDIVIDUALS LICENSE BEFORE INITIATNG THERAPY WITH THE STATE REGULATORY AGENCY COVERING PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN YOUR AREA. Then, and only then, should you consider undergoing treatment, whether it is face-to-face or over the internet. I would recommend face-to-face treatment in all but the most austere or complex situations.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Navy Yard Shootings: Terrorist, Crazed Gunman, or Victim? Anything's Possible!

Having been the victim of whistleblower retaliation three times in the last 5 years, I would NOT be surprised if the Navy Yard shooting suspect was a victim of harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation, what I call "Institutional Terrorism".

My core values are selflessness, loyalty, integrity, compassion, excellence, dignity, and respect, and I believe in DOING THE RIGHT THING, something that has caused me a great deal of personal and professional grief over the course of my life as many of you know. Telling the truth and feeling obligated to report wrongdoing are not qualities everyone appreciates as I have found out. Currently, neither I nor most of the world know what prompted the suspect in today's Washington DC shootings, Aaron Alexis, at the Navy Yard to lash out indiscriminately, killing a reported 12 souls and injuring at least as many. But I can speculate as I have in previous recent articles.

From reporting my bully of a boss at one of the country's largest general contractors to human resources in 2009 to filing a discrimination and retaliation complaint against a University of Missouri - Kansas City (UMKC) associate dean in 2011 to reporting whistleblower retaliation by a government contractor and the Department of the Interior just this year, I had no choice but to act if I were to be able to look at myself in the mirror each morning.

Unfortunately, neither private business nor government institutions care about employees or customers (people) and do not hesitate to lash out at those they see as a threat. Why? Because they can!

They, the individuals and institutions that will not hesitate to ruin a person's life if we do not conform to their expectations or, God forbid, threaten their existence or livelihood in the case of the gross fraud, waste, and abuse I and many others have witnessed and reported, are not concerned about being held accountable for their actions or inaction. Discrimination and retaliation laws in this country, particularly whistleblower retaliation law and policy, have been degraded since the Bush (II) administration and are rarely if ever enforced because of the high costs involved with investigating or prosecuting cases and because attorneys will not touch a case unless there is a high probability of success and six to seven figure settlements. Pro bono you say? Yea ... right!

Lawyers will do nothing "for nothing" unless forced to or unless there is national media attention in the cards. Corporations and other large institutions know they can get away with attacking employees and customers because they know, in all probability, that they will get away with it.

Back to Alexis and the tragic massacre in Washington DC. I have no idea what compelled this man to lash out at coworkers, but based on my own experience, other mass shootings (aka "going postal"), and knowledge of human behavior, there is a chance that this man had been persecuted by a fellow employee or supervisor and was let down by a system (supposedly) designed to protect him. Having experienced the frustration that comes with that firsthand, I can tell you that retribution against attackers, at least the thought of such, is a distinct possibility. Add anxiety, depression, and loss of job, home or relationship to the thought of retaliating against our attackers and you have the making of a time bomb waiting to explode.

Most of us have the positive values and resilience to deal with such thoughts or temptations to act more humanely, more reasonably than others in those situations. But a small minority of the population, those overwhelmed by stress for example, do not.  Was Alexis one of them? Only time will tell.
One thing is for sure, Alexis, a Navy Reserve veteran, will undoubtedly be categorized and condemned, as are most Veterans, as being "aggressive" and "threatening", and has already been labeled as having "anger problems" in a Fox News (@FoxNews) report just hours after the attack. I have written extensively about false perceptions among the civilian sector about Veterans, lumping us all together and generalizing that Veterans are "all angry, aggressive, and threatening" because that is how we have been portrayed in the media for decades, if not centuries.

Murder has declined sharply over the last 20 years, but mass murders have increased significantly since 2002. On average, 14,000 Americans die by the hand of an other each year and mass murder (shootings) has spiked with dozens murdered each year in 6 of the 7 most recent years (Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Sandy Hook, Navy Yard). A total of 167 souls have died through mass murder in the last decade. Considering the fact that mass murders have become more prevalent recently, it appears to me that the stresses of war, the aftermath of 9/11 and threat of terrorism, a faltering economy, and degradation of whistleblower retaliation protections may play a critical role. The chances are astronomically AGAINST being the victim of mass murder, but proportionally MUCH HIGHER (when compared to murder in general) than just a decade ago.

When will this madness stop? Most likely, never. Until Institutional terrorism is addressed and laws protecting citizens from the powers that be are given more than "lip-service", there will always be those who feel their only course of action is violence when their back is against the wall. Or maybe Alexis was just a nutcase. That is a distinct possibility and, as more information is released, appears to be a very likely "part" of the story.

God bless the dozens of men and women killed or wounded in this horrible tragedy and God bless the families left to deal with the resulting grief and loss from a life cut short or severely disrupted by such an event, including the Alexis family. My prayers are with each and every one of you.

Key Words: Aaron, Alexis, Navy, Yard, shooting, violence, Washington, DC, NavyYardShooting, killed, murder, mass, murderer, shooter, military, Veteran, reservist, wounded, dead, institutional, terrorism

Friday, August 9, 2013

Stop Enabling Murderers and Rapists ANDERSON COOPER!

You have to murder, rape, or both to receive national media attention and, possibly, justice in this country. How many hundreds, thousands of hours do you and your peers waste every year providing prime nationwide television coverage to scumbags Anderson?

I recently lost my business, home, and most possessions BECAUSE I CHOSE TO DO THE RIGHT THING and report government fraud, waste, and abuse ... WASTE IN THE HUNDRED$ OF MILLION$!

I am just a retired military officer, disabled Veteran, and licensed professional counselor providing therapy to military and Vets (and their families) with PTSD. Do I have to kill someone, many, or myself to get attention and possibly justice in this country? Well, THAT DOG WON'T HUNT Anderson, ain't gonna happen because that is not the way I roll, NOT MY MO brother.

And we, American television viewers, citizens, wonder why middle-aged white men GO POSTAL? Many times it is because they were abused, bullied, discriminated or retaliated against, or otherwise harassed AND NOBODY GAVE A CRAP, NOBODY CARED BECAUSE STRAIGHT WHITE MEN HAVE NO RIGHTS. So the killer(s) feel as though they have no choice, other than taking extremely drastic measures, to receive (what they see as) JUSTICE.

As a middle-aged straight, white male who has experienced severe bullying, harassment, discrimination, and retaliation over the past 5 years and who has been completely ignored by my elected officials, government employees, lawyers, and the media, I can understand, intellectually, how some of those individuals felt. The only difference between me and them is that I have well defined personal values and the clarity of mind to know between right and wrong. Have I had fleeting thoughts of vigilante-type retribution? YOU BET! But I understand the difference between a short irrational thought and a course of action based on selflessness, loyalty, integrity, compassion, excellence, dignity and respect (my values). Those pushed to the brink of insanity cannot always make that distinction.

DO THE RIGHT THING ANDERSON! Stop prostituting yourself to Nielson Ratings and commercial advertisers, and tell the stories of real people, people struggling to serve their community, their country, leaving things better than they were before they arrived. Stop giving the narcissists, the sociopaths like Jodi Arias the attention they so desperately require and focus on telling the story of real Americans, those who deserve justice and cannot receive it unless something drastic happens ... DO SOMETHING DRASTIC ANDERSON ... TELL AMERICA HOW THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE RUINED A MAN'S LIVELIHOOD FOR NO REASON OTHER THAN WANTING TO DO THE RIGHT THING.

Key Words: Anderson Cooper, Anderson, Cooper, enabler, enabling, murder, murderer, rape, rapist, justice, go postal, going, postal, values, harassment, bully, bullying, whistleblower, retaliation

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Letter to the Editor: Air Force Times ... Preferential Treatment and Mixed Martial Arts as Treatment for PTSD?

After reading the August 12, 2013 issue of Air Force Times, I had to respond to two columns: Volunteerism and TransitioningVeteran.com and mixed martial arts (MMA) as an alternative treatment for PTSD (Bret Moore).

Volunteerism is an important topic and I applaud Air Force Times and the author for bringing this to the attention of your readers. What I do not understand is why one individual and his "pet project" received preferential treatment and outstanding (gratis) advertising when many other very deserving organizations, non-profits serving military and Veterans for example, are routinely overlooked.

As leader of a struggling non-profit serving military and Veterans with PTSD, I have submitted numerous letters and articles to your publication (several letters having been published), but was never offered an opportunity to showcase our non-profit ... Help4VetsPTSD (http://www.Help4VetsPTSD.org). I have published numerous articles related to military and Veteran mental health, the most recent in January's De Oppresso Liber magazine entitled "The Stigma Killing American Heroes", but have never been invited to be highlighted in your publication.

Why does TransitioningVeteran.com, an apparent for-profit enterprise, receive preferential treatment? This is not the first time I have seen private organizations given special treatment in your publication and it will likely not be the last.

In regard to Dr. Moore's column touting mixed martial arts and yoga as therapeutic alternatives, providing "substantial dividends" for PTSD sufferers, I have to raise the BS flag.

Yoga has been studied in empirically supported research studies and has been shown to provide positive dividends for those suffering from PTSD and other anxiety disorders. Yoga and other meditative states are beneficial (statistically), lowering cortisol levels and improving other stress-related symptoms when compared to no treatment.

Dr. Moore provided no reference to empirically supported, published research studies for either yoga or MMA and I do not recall ever having read anything about MMA being an effective alternative treatment for ANY chronic psychiatric condition, particularly PTSD.

I believe it is irresponsible for an individual, much less such a publication with a primarily military and Veteran audience as Military Times, to claim that a sport in which people beat each other to within an inch of their lives as therapeutic. There may very well be positive physical and mental benefits to both yoga and MMA, but it is irresponsible and unprofessional to claim that either deserves such prominence in your publication without adequate supporting research or, at the very least, a reference to a published study that provides empirically supported evidence of such a benefit.

Finally, Dr. Moore clearly does not understand the processes involved in yoga/meditation and their effects on lowering anxiety. He claims that yoga helps PTSD sufferers "fend off distressing thoughts", another form of avoidance and something any reasonable clinician would NOT want to promote in our clients. Yoga, meditation, and other Buddhist practices and beliefs DO NOT promote avoiding distressing thoughts, they DO promote simply accepting those thoughts in the present moment, thereby making them less threatening and increasing the individual's tolerance to experience the thoughts and associated emotions rather than avoiding them. Do your homework or leave it to the experts next time, giving your readers the accurate, objective information we deserve.

Chris Sorrentino, LtCol, USAF (Ret)
aka CombatCounselor
Executive Director, Help4VetsPTSD
Kansas City, MO

Friday, July 12, 2013

Half Empty or Half Full?

The age old questions: Do you want the good news first or the bad ... Is the glass half empty or half full?

We were recently forced to put our beautiful lakefront home on the market because the Department of the Interior had my $50,000 contract cancelled in February THEN had the gaul to insist that the prime contractors BLACKLIST me, ruining my business.

They did that because I filed a complaint of fraud, waste, and abuse against the government contractor I have been subcontracting for since January 2012. The contractor is fraudulently wasting HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS ... EVERY YEAR!  I tried to DO THE RIGHT THING and was punished severely for it. THAT MY FRIENDS IS CALLED WHISTLEBLOWER RETALIATION AND IT IS ILLEGAL!

Our house was just leased for three years by an Army lieutenant colonel at Fort Leavenworth, giving the market time to recover and, hopefully, sell our home in three years and NOT TAKE A $50,000 LOSS ON IT as we would have if we had sold instead of leasing.

I am a half-full kinda guy ... Everything works out for the best in the end.

As a Roman general, Lucius Sulla, said: "No friend ever served me, no enemy ever wronged me, whom I have not repaid in full".

After filing an inspector general complaint with the Department of the Interior in February, they are the folks who are supposed to protect citizens from unlawful retaliation, particularly whistleblower retaliation, they ignored my pleas for an update. I received a letter last week from the Chief Operating Officer of the Department of Interior Business Center, the boss of the woman who retaliated against me, stating that the Inspector General had turned the case over to him ... Can you say "fox watching the henhouse?" ... SURE YA CAN!

In his letter, he stated that MY complaint had no justification and that the reason my contract was cancelled was because of "substandard performance"!

Substandard performance?  Where is the justification for that? Why was I never informed about this substandard performance, particularly during a conversation with the contracting officer, the woman who I had complained to and responsible for cancelling my contract, when we spoke on the phone JUST FOUR DAYS PRIOR TO MY CONTRACT BEING CANCELED? Why did see not mention MY SUBSTANDARD PERFORMANCE DURING THAT CALL ...WHICH I RECORDED BY THE WAY (the recording of conversations is legal in the State of Virginia, where the contracting officer works, if one party gives consent, that party being ME)?

She also informed the contractors, the people who do or do not subcontract work to me and my service-disabled veteran-owned small business, of my alleged "substandard performance", ensuring that I receive no additional contracts in the future ... ALL WITHOUT A SHRED OF EVIDENCE, ANY FACTS, AND WITHOUT DUE PROCESS!

I fought for our freedom, the freedom of the pencil pushers who now retaliate against me, and now MY GOVERNMENT slanders and defames me, ruining the business I have built from scratch and pays our bills? Really? Can that happen in the United States of America? I am telling you as someone who is experiencing it directly, IT CAN AND IT DOES!

As I described in my last post, the vast majority of lawyers only care about one thing ... MONEY!  Most likely, the only way I will get justice is by receiving national media attention. Then, and only then, will a "selfless" attorney step forward to represent me "pro bono" ... How unselfish and magnanimous they will appear, even though the only reason they would do it is to get 20 minutes of national media exposure when 60 Minutes calls for an interview.

I sent my response to the defamatory letter from the Department of Interior yesterday, certified US Mail, with certified copies going to President Obama, Congressman Sam Graves, the Secretary of the Interior, and the author's boss, Mr. O'Neill. Do I expect a response, assistance, or justice? Honestly, no. The only reason I spent $30 I cannot afford is so that when this DOES all come out eventually, I will have the documentation to prove what these people, these protectors of the Constitution, DID OR DID NOT DO when confronted with evidence of illegal, immoral, and unethical behavior by a government contractor and government employees. And I do ... HAVE HUNDREDS OF PAGES OF EVIDENCE, DOCUMENTATION, PROVING WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT THAT WHAT I AM CLAIMING IS THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH!

Let's face it, I am a 50-something white man, so there is likely little, if any, chance that I will receive national media attention (there is no sex or murder involved), legal representation (I am broke), or justice. Justice you say? What a concept ... what a country ... WHAT A SHAME!

CombatCounselor ... OUT!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Selfless or Narcissist ... That Is The Question!

Here's a great example of the difference between selfless people, those who go into the caring professions (veterinarians, nurses, social workers, etc.), and narcissists (the antonym of "selfless"), those who go into other professions, usually more prestigious and lucrative.  Can you say attorneys?  Sure you can!

I have seen literally hundreds of clients (I am a licensed psychotherapist) free of charge, "pro bono", hundreds, over the last 22 years, yet I have not and will not brag about it and would never think of mentioning it publicly except to highlight a poignant example, as I am here.

This particular lawyer, who I am sure is not an evil person and in-fact helped my wife get her attorney in her recent successful lawsuit, bragged about HIMSELF on Facebook yesterday (see referenced post below) about how he "waived" an amputees expenses "AND" ONLY CHARGED HIM HALF OF HIS NORMAL FEE ... ONLY HALF OF WHAT, $250 AN HOUR?  This poor man with only one leg had to pay just $125 an hour!

Here is his post:
"I am so humbled by the faith people put in me. I am also overwhelmed by the perspective my clients have despite facing the worst tragedies. I just settled a case today for a man who suffered a leg amputation when a car pulled in front of his motorcycle. Over the time I have been his lawyer, I never heard him complain ONCE about how he felt or how his entire life has been re-written. He was surely in pain, scared, frustrated -- but his attitude was always shockingly positive and upbeat. This client trusted me sight-unseen on the recommendation of a mutual friend. He lives half a country away, and could have picked any of the lawyers knocking on his door. But he chose me. His attitude and spirit prompted me--after our very first conversation--to waive his case expenses AND more than half of my usual attorney fee. So I am thankful to know this client, and I extend boundless appreciation to him  and our mutual friend who put us on the other's path."

When I think of pro bono, I think of the legal profession.  We always hear about attorneys who take pro bono cases for the poor or disabled right?  The problem with that is those cases are usually high-profile cases, the ones that make it on television, shows like 48 Hours, 60 Minutes, or one of other well known programs.  The others are usually during highly publicized trials like Casey Anthony, Jodi Arias, or Robert Zimmerman to name a few recent examples.  Why is it that only these people get “pro bono” defense?  PUBLICITY, that is the reason, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in FREE PUBLICITY … how altruistic those lawyers are!

This particular lawyer sees himself as a hero because he reduced his fee by half and ate the expenses, which normally do not add up to much or are highly inflated in the first place.  Here is a poor guy who lost his leg and probably cannot work, and the lawyer likely ended up with between $60,000 and $140,000 of the man’s money!  They probably settled out of court too, saving the attorney a hundred or more hours of work while raking in the same (or more) than he would have if it had gone to trial.

Let me tell you a brief, "hypothetical", story.  A law firm takes on a case for national origin discrimination.  The big cheese, the guy the firm is named after makes only rare appearances, during the first meeting and when they go to mediation.  The rest of the time his “staff” works on the case only when they have time, rarely returning phone calls or emails from the victim because they are focused on bigger issues, other cases.  The entire firm spends minimal time, all the while telling the victim “you have a great case, we’re going to get you close to $500,000!”, which is a pittance compared to what she should have received for having her reputation ruined and losing her 20-year career as a teacher.

As the trial date approaches, the lawyers realized that they had not done enough work, also called due diligence, and dropped the ball, so they asked for a five month extension from the court and it was granted.  Five additional months of stress for the victim and her family, needless stress because the law firm had higher priorities elsewhere.  Only then did the depositions begin, depositions that should have been started months ago in July of 2012, two months before the original court date.  They had not even contacted the victim’s top witness and did not do so until the plaintiff insisted.  That was just a week before the mediation, which came out of nowhere to the victim ... only a month before rescheduled trial date!

In the interim, the big honcho (he even wears a cowboy hat) was taking care of other cases and not even thinking about the victim’s case.  Then, finally, in the few months directly before the mediation and trial, his cronies (low-wage lawyers – compared to the honcho anyway) finally spent some time on the case.  He and his staff probably spent no more than  50 to 60 hours total, and that is likely a stretch, on the case before the surprise mediation (an event the victim was told nothing about until last minute).

As they went into mediation, the honcho was finally there with his crisp brown Stetson, along with his two cronies.  The mediator came in, a retired judge, and it was like “old times”, the honcho and mediator obviously having known each other rather well.  The mediator admitted that he knew very little, if anything, about the case because he “just received it”, so honcho started laying out the victim’s case, a very complex case with hundreds of pages of evidence, over a just a fifteen minute period.  Honcho even forgot several extremely critical points and it was not his cronies that chimed in to correct him, it was the victim’s husband!  And that was it, the judge says “got it” and scurried off to meet with the defense team across the hall.

The negotiations started off just below the figure mentioned above, but the numbers quickly dropped as the mediator went back and forth like a ping pong ball.  As time went on, even though he knew little about the case, the mediator was making judgments, saying “you don’t have a very strong case” and “only 38% of plaintiffs are successful in Missouri”, and all the while the victim’s attorney is agreeing with him!  What?  What happened to the great case the victim had?  Well, then it was time for lunch.

Honcho was gracious enough to offer to buy lunch for the victim and her husband at a French restaurant in the building.  While the victim’s husband used the restroom, Honcho and his male crony ordered Maker’s Mark whisky on the rocks, in a glass the size of the Hulk’s fist, filled to the brim.  Must have been at least a triple shot.  Honcho’s wife, the other crony, ordered a glass of wine, so when the husband returned, Honcho said “we’re having one, you might as well order one too”, so he order a glass of wine as well.  The victim does not drink and stuck with just water.  Less than half way into lunch, Honcho had already polished off his whisky, orders another, as did his male sidekick, and here come two more tumblers full of alcohol.  There must have been AT LEAST 6 ounces in each glass, for a total of 12 ounces EACH over lunch … all in less than an hour!

Things started heading downhill, to put it mildly, after lunch as the mediator became more negative and offensive and honcho getting more impatient and aggressive (with the client and her husband) with every minute, becoming hostile, raising his voice, and stomping out of the room at one point.

Looking back, it seems like a big production, a well rehearsed one at that, as honcho and his cronies started to insist the victim had a poor case and that she should think seriously about accepting an offer that was a fraction of the starting number.  They said “you’ll be lucky to get this much in court, if you can win at all”.  Wearing her and her husband down over several hours, which seemed to be the goal, honcho became enraged when the husband stated “I thought you said we had a good case, we were hoping that you would advocate for seeing this through to trial, we wanted to hear you say “let’s fight this and beat the bastards!’.”  At that point honcho stood up, cussed at the husband, saying “we’ll do whatever you want”, while his cronies kept pushing the victim harder and harder toward a settlement.

It all made sense, “good cop, bad cop”, wear the subject (his client in this case) down until they cannot take it any more, then go in for the kill!  Honcho and his cronies had everything to gain and nothing to lose by settling in mediation.  They would receive 40% of the agreed-upon amount and much more than their hourly rate based on the small amount of work they had obviously put in, saving themselves a great deal of work during the most intensive period, just before and during trial.  Win-win for the lawyers ... WHAT A SHOCK!

In the end, the victim received a VERY SMALL FRACTION of what she was told would be an equitable result, “making her whole”, an amount that would barely pay for a mid-priced car these days.  And that was supposed to "make her whole" after having lost a $65,000 a year job and a 20-year career?  The lawyers were the obvious victors here, coming out on top in this case, them and the mediator who charged thousands for a single days’ work.

I would tell you about my personal experience with lawyers, an experience even less positive than this, but I will save that for another article, a book maybe.  All in all, I think Shakespeare was right when he wrote:

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.” William Shakespeare - Henry The Sixth, Part 2 Act 4, Scene 2
I do not mean that literally, but maybe the world would be a better place if there were not any in the first place.  Which brings me to the question: Selfless or narcissist?  Every lawyer I have ever met, with one exception out of hundreds were selfish, arrogant, narcissists.  Have you had a different experience?   I hope so.  If you have or have not, let me hear your opinion, about your experience with the legal profession.  


"Selfless or narcissist ... that is the question!" - CombatCounselor, June, 18th, 2013
Key Terms: arrogant, attorney, case, CombatActivist, court, defendant, defense, INSTITUTIONAL, InstitutionalTerrorism, judge, lawyer, legal, mediation, narcissist, plaintiff, selfless, TERRORISM, trial, victim, viral

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Poor Guy (David Henneberry) with the Shot-Up Boat in Watertown, Massachusetts

BeResilient Dave ... I'm sure you're a good guy!
I heard that they have started a fundraising campaign for the poor guy that got his $50,000 boat shot-up by the Watertown Police Department ... Poor guy ...

HEY WAIT ... IF HE'S RICH ENOUGH TO PARK A $50,000 YACHT IN HIS DRIVEWAY, HE CAN PAY FOR HIS OWN DARN BOAT! WHAT ABOUT INSURANCE? MAYBE THE CITY OF WATERTOWN SHOULD PAY FOR IT ... THEY DEMOLISHED IT!

Seriously, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in Boston more deserving of a donation ... like the parents of the 8 year old boy that died, or the others KIA (killed in action), or the lady that lost her legs, or the rest of the victims and families scarred physically and emotionally by this horrific attack.

I think the guy with the boat comes in last, behind the victims in Boston, West Texas, Sandy Hook, etc ... etc ... etc ... What about you? What do you think?

Share or G+ this post if you think the guy with the boat is SOL (that's poop out of luck for you civilians) ... comment if you feel strongly either way!

Here are some more recent and (very) questionable fundraising campaigns:

  • Murderer George Zimmerman receives donations in the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS  after killing an unarmed African-American youth
  • Actor George Clooney raised $15,000,000 in one night for Barack Obama's reelection campaign
  • Warner Brothers Pictures has over $3,000,000 raised (for them) TO PRODUCE A MOVIE based on the popular Veronica Mars television series
  • An estimated $3 BILLION was raised ... wasted on negative campaign ads and wining and dining multi-billionaires ... during the 2012 presidential election campaign
I think all of that money could have gone toward much more worthwhile causes, such as:

  • American Red Cross
  • USO
  • Salvation Army
  • Wounded Warrior Project
  • American Cancer Institute
  • Help4VetsPTSD ... They got $0!
StayTheCourse Boston ... You're in our prayers!

StayPresent ... BeResilient ... StayTheCourse  
CombatCounselor ... OUT!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston, Terrorism, the Media, and Human Nature


Add caption
Boston ... Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved-ones of the two victims who lost their lives as well as those who were injured and the first responders who put their lives in peril to save others. Decoy devices are quite common among terrorists, so let's hope they have successfully cleared the area of additional IEDs.

As was the case with Sandy Hook, this event is and will receive a great deal of attention for days, if not weeks, not to mention many anniversaries to come. That is EXACTLY WHAT THE PERPETRATORS AND TERRORISTS WANT AND NEED TO EXIST!

The purpose of terrorism is, obviously, "to terrorize" and you cannot terrorize without the mass media. The mass media (TV, radio, internet) profit from these events because humans have a sick need to be entranced by trauma and gore. So disasters such as these are extremely profitable for the networks, stations, and websites because humans are innately sadistic.

Think about the times you've arrived at the source of a traffic jam only to find people rubber-necking to see if the can view some blood and gore ... even on the opposite side of the highway! I cannot tell you how many times I have been delayed on LA freeways only to find a fender fender or a flat tire miles away that people could not resist gawking at.

"Sadistic" may be a strong word, but characterizes rather succinctly the need people have to view traumatic, bloody scenes. Other examples of this phenomena are the people who hear of a tragedy (fire, earthquake, hurricane, etc.) and feel compelled to go to the scene, PUTTING THEIR LIVES, AND THOSE OF THEIR FAMILIES IN SOME CASES, IN PERIL!

Bullfights, car races, boxing, ultimate fighting, running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain and other events where there is a high probability of blood and guts being exposed are extremely popular. You have to be "a little slow" (to put it nicely) to watch 33 cars go round and round and round and round until somebody FINALLY crosses the finish line hours later, usually a rather anti-climactic event and the lowlight of the race...hopefully there were a few crashes!

Why do we humans act this way?  One reason is that people are inherently curious creatures. Beyond that, there is some subconscious satisfaction in seeing others suffer. The suffering of others gives us a momentary feeling of superiority or a sense of "wow...I'm sure glad that wasn't me!". In either case, it makes it feel, on a level we are not necessarily aware of, that we are better off or safer than others and that can be very comforting. Another reason people may rush to a disaster scene is to be able to say "I was there!" ... BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, GOT THE T-SHIRT!

A woman actually canceled her Hawaiian vacation to go to Arizona TO WATCH THE JODI ARIAS MURDER TRIAL ... Are you serious ... Jodi Arias over Hawaii? Now that is sick!

I have done it myself, so even perfect people like me are not immune! I was in Paris the weekend Princess Diana was killed. We had walked by the Ritz Hotal that very afternoon on our way back to our room from the Eiffel Tower. The next morning, we woke up to a French NEWSFLASH claiming that Princess Diana had been killed early that morning. We we're planning on visiting that area along the Seine later that day (that's my story and I'm sticking to it) to visit the Hard Rock Cafe (I collect Hard Rock sweatshirts, having visited the Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, Budapest, Rome, Seoul, London, Edinburgh, Brussels, Munich, and many other franchises). It was two in the afternoon when we arrived at the hill next to the entrance of the tunnel and could see the doomed Mercedes as the police continued their investigation. A rather large makeshift memorial had already been erected on that very hill being comprised of hundreds of bouquets of flowers, stuffed animals, balloons, and cards from people communicating their grief and condolences. She truly was the "People's Princess" as I had observed during my three years in England. I was also in London the following weekend, visiting Buckingham Palace where the memorial extended for hundreds of yards along the fence, 50 feet deep in some places, with the same flowers, balloons, signs, and stuffed animals. It was quite a spectacle and something I will not forget soon. Even more memorable was the funeral coverage (no, I was not there) and the true heartfelt grief and sadness the people of England were feeling. It was very sad and an incredible experience...I WAS THERE!

Again, my blessings go out to the dead and many injured, physically AND psychologically, by this horrific event. We as a nation have been very lucky since 9/11/2001 and need to be prepared and vigilant for.future attacks ... IT IS INEVITABLE. And humans being humans, some will die, many will flock to the scene, and even more will find a way to profit from the tragedy. Whether it is a con artist setting up a fake website in one of the victim's names to solicit donations (to him or her) or ABC programming untold hours of coverage from every perspective imaginable. Can we really blame ABC for trying to profit from the misery of others? No, not really, because that is the business they are in and owe it to their shareholders and viewers to give them what them want or need. What the media, ABC is only an example, can and should be chastised for is giving the perpetrator or terrorist organization the publicity, the coverage they need to be successful. Whether it is for their 15 minutes of fame, satisfaction of a long held grudge, or instilling terror in the populace. Terrorism could not exist without the worldwide media where disasters can be televised around the world literally seconds after it happens and sometimes AS IT HAPPENS in the case of smartphone camera that make capturing news AS IT HAPPENS, then going viral on YouTube as all of us sadistic humans click on the Facebook link.

In conclusion, I truly mourn for the dead, wounded, and their families involved in the Boston Marathon Attacks. I have provided a psychological perspective of human nature because it seemed to be a compelling story on which to discuss the topic. I hope I have not detracted from this sad turn of events and pray I did not offend anyone because that was not my intention. I am a compassionate person, but there are times to get your message across and this seemed like one of them. I hope you learned something from this discussion because that is my only intent ... AND NO, I DO NOT MAKE ANY MONEY DOING THIS!


#PrayForTheVictims... BeResilient!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

CombatCounselor Q&A IS BACK ... ON BLOGTALK RADIO!




My NEW RADIO SHOW ... CombatCounselor Q&A ®, on BlogTalk Radio premiered today! Have a listen ... what could be so bad! CombatCounselor ... On the Front Lines in the Battle Against Anxiety and Depression ... Sometimes we have to lose a few battles to WIN THE WAR. The important thing to remember is ... NEVER GIVE UP .... and

... StayPresent  BeResilient  StayTheCourse ... CombatCounselor ... OUT!



Sunday, March 31, 2013

Tax Scams and Tax Robbers...Bilking America(ns) BIG TIME!


I do not know about you, but I stress over money more than anything.  As I discussed in last week's post, one of the primary causes of conflict in relationships today is financial ... MONEY ... or lack thereof. I discussed credit and credit scores as a source of conflict in my last post, educating you on some pitfalls and secrets, and telling you how to stay on top of your credit score (Vantage or FICO) and avoid potential problems down the road.

I saw a story on "Rock Center with Brian Williams" last night about tax refund fraud and the IRS. Apparently, this has become a very lucrative crime with scumbags stealing identities (very easy) and filing made-up tax returns IN YOUR NAME ... TO THE TUNE OF $5 BILLION LAST YEAR!

If you have worked with or for the federal government, you have witnessed WASTE in unfathomable proportions, fraud and abuse as well, but waste is rampant! Government departments and contractors waste HUNDREDS OF BILLION$ EVERY YEAR and this $5 billion scam is just the tip of the iceberg!

Medicare fraud, social security and disability fraud, and now tax fraud, if there is a way to defraud the government or waste taxpayer dollars, someone has figured it out.

There was another story on the same program about Carnival Cruiseline and the fact that they pay only 0.6%, that is less than one percent, in international, federal, state...etc. taxes! Not only that, they have bilked the US Coast Guard and Navy  out of over $2 million over the past year in recovery operations for their poorly maintained fleet alone. That does not include the millions being spent on the Costa Concordia (one of their ships) clean-up effort. Their CEO is the proud owner of the Miami Heat basketball team and one of the richest men in Florida, yet his company (Carnival) rips-off billions from United States citizens every year ... what a great American!

Bank of America, Pfizer, and hundreds of other behemoth corporations pay 0.0% in tax to our government to the tune of over $70 BILLION every year by taking their accounts offshore and exploiting tax laws that are so complex and detailed the IRS has difficulty understanding them.  Really?  $70 million gone and nobody cares?  I pay more in taxes than Bank of America?  What a great country!

I have witnessed, first-hand, government/contractor waste on a huge scale recently.  I cannot go into detail because of pending litigation, but this one contractor AND THE GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING OFFICER supposedly "overseeing" the contract, are wasting many millions of dollars annually and this is just one relatively SMALL contract! If the Department of Defense would join us in the 21st Century and take the steps necessary to give our military confidentiality when seeking mental healthcare, this particular contract would not even be necessary! A contract a few simple policy changes would eliminate all together wastes tens, if not hundreds, of millions each year. How absurd is that?

With all of that being said, why the hell do the White House, Congress, Pentagon, and many other federal entities primarily target personnel and benefits when things get tight? Why do they not focus on the massive amounts of fraud and waste within our own government, bilking American taxpayers out of HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS ANNUALLY and running up our deficit INTO THE TRILLIONS!

We should not stand for this ANY LONGER! If you are sick and tired of government/contractor fraud, waste, and abuse, LIKE and SHARE THIS POST with all of your friends.

Until we citizens, the American taxpayers, the people who elect these morons and pay their salaries, say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and unite in defiance, these frauds, wastes, and abuses will continue unabated.

END THE APATHY...UNITE...GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND STAND-UP FOR OUR COUNTRY...BEFORE WE DO NOT HAVE ONE TO STAND-UP FOR!

ENSURE every citizen, every Service Member & Veteran, you know SEES THIS POST! LET'S START A NON-VIOLENT UPRISING, DEFIANCE AGAINST INSANITY AND SUPPORT WHAT IS RIGHT, BY UNDERSTANDING JUST ONE PROBLEM AND SIGNING THIS  WHITE HOUSE PETITION: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/help-end-military-suicides-and-negative-stigmas-surrounding-ptsd-and-mental-health-treatment/DTjdBHdY

God bless you and our great nation, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tuition Assistance (TA) Suspension Versus Military Suicides...Let's Get Our Priorities Straight!

by
C.T. Sorrentino, LtCol, USAF (Ret)
aka CombatCounselor
Air Force Tuition Assistance (TA) suspension is a TEMPORARY SOLUTION to a short-term problem ... SUICIDE is a PERMANENT SOLUTION to a temporary problem.  TA is a very popular program, recruiting and retention tool, and valuable entitlement to our military men and women.
With sequestration comes program cuts, usually "soft" programs like TA over weapon system programs like to beleaguered F-35 program. So the temporary "suspension" of TA has troops up in arms and rightfully so. The White House Petition asking the president to save the TA program has garnered over 80,000 of the 100,000 required signatures to force Obama to address the issue. I started a White House Petition several months back when the criteria for presidential action was just 10,000 signatures and few petitions came close to that mark, so 80,000+ signatures is quite a milestone...congratulations!
My previous petition was similar to the one I recently started and even though tens of thousands saw my pleas for action, we received only 71 of the required 150 signatures to even get the petition viewable on the website, and WAY SHORT of the 10,000 signature requirement. What does that tell you about the priorities of our citizens? 71 signatures out of 25,000+ possible ... NOT A VERY GOOD CONVERSION RATE.
More men and women in uniform COMMITTED SUICIDE last year than were KILLED IN COMBAT! 6,900+ Military and Veterans die by their own hand each year and the negative stigmas against anxiety, depression, PTSD, and mental health treatment in the military are the cause.
We (military men and women and Veterans) learn NOT TO ASK FOR HELP for these very real and debilitating psychological problems because we fear being ostracized by superiors and peers, losing our security clearances, and/or possibly losing our careers.  Until military men and women are GIVEN CONFIDENTIAL TREATMENT and the IGNORANCE OF OUR LEADERS are addressed, our heroes will continue to take their own lives!
Please read my articles on these stigmas, one of which (THE STIGMA KILLING AMERICAN HEROES) was recently published in De Oppresso Liber magazine. There is also a recent post on our WHITE HOUSE PETITION, asking President Obama to address this extremely important issue and allow our troops to receive CONFIDENTIAL TREATMENT, thereby reducing the stigmas, I have discussed very briefly here, over time.
Please sign our WHITE HOUSE PETITION and read more about the issue elsewhere in this blog: http://www.CombatCounselor.blogspot.com
Tuition Assistance WILL RETURN ... LAST YEAR'S 7,000 DEAD HEROES WILL NOT!  Be selfless, THINK ABOUT SOMEONE ELSE FOR A CHANGE, PUTTING ANY SELFISH CONCERNS TO THE SIDE FOR NOW.
If our military men and women put as much effort into saving 7,000 lives each year as they do trying  save an ENTITLEMENT that will only benefit them personally, our petition would succeed in record time. It is time to start thinking about someone other than yourselves, character traits like "empathy" (being able to put yourself in sometime else's shoes, feeling their pain, etc) and "selflessness", which is one of the Air Force Core Values by the way, and put your effort into more critical activities.  It is time to be selfless and end these absurd yet deadly stigmas, empathizing with those afflicted by painful memories and emotions instead of ensuring that YOU have that AA Degree by the time you jump ship for the private sector.
BLESS YOU ALL AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR LOYAL SERVICE!
Key Words: PTSD,suicide,military,stigma,stigmas,troops,co confidentiality,confidential,mental,health,treatment,ignorance,career,security,clearance,CombatCounselor