Tyler's Homecoming

August 3, 2010

Last week I told you a little about my cousin, Sgt. Tyler A Juden, a bit about me, about The Tyler Project, and how I got to doing these blogs. I also shared with you the speech I read at my schools 2009 Annual Veteran’s Day assembly where I launched The Tyler Project. Today, I will share with you WHAT at Tyler’s funeral and homecoming inspired me to create The Tyler Project… The beautiful display of PATRIOTISM.

When I went home for Tyler’s homecoming and funeral, I was amazed. I saw patriotism like never before. And, I realized that patriotism IS beautiful, but it needed to be shown all the time and not just when a solider makes the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Homecoming – Due to bad weather, at the last moment the plane carrying Tyler’s body back home to our family had to change landing areas to a location about 40 minutes from our hometown. On the way to the airport, we saw people lining the streets, holding American flags and/or saluting. We saw many signs, both those hand made as well as the signs out in front of businesses’, thanking Tyler and supporting our family. As we made that drive, we decided to turn the radio on to the local radio station, KACY. They were covering Tyler’s homecoming live and they were playing requested songs from Tyler’s friends that reminded them of him. One song that was requested several times, Angel by Sarah McLachlan, is still very hard to listen to. We drove down a country road to the airport and when we turned the corner, I saw flags, hundreds of flags waving in the wind, all being held by Patriot Guard members standing at attention, lining the entrance of the runway. It was a sight that I find hard to put into words. I had never seen anything like that before. I wondered why we don’t see so many American flags more often as what I saw was beauty displayed in red, white and blue. After receiving Tyler’s body, we were led back to our hometown by the hundreds of motorcycles and flags of the Patriot Guard members. Along the highway and through the small towns we passed through, we saw people saluting, coming out of their homes and businesses, and pulling off the road to stand outside of their cars…some crying…all for someone they had never met, but giving honor to a fallen hero. As we came over the hill into our hometown, it was quiet. The only sounds we could hear were the sounds of the hundreds of flags gracefully swaying in the wind, and the crying of those who mourned the loss of a hometown son. More flags than I had ever seen lined the road. I saw people, Americans, saluting, crying. I was in awe.

Funeral – As emotionally hard as the funeral was, it was also amazing. Again, as we came around the corner to the auditorium where his funeral was being held, approximately 500 Patriot Guard members lined the way for our family’s entrance. As our family entered the auditorium, I kept my head down to hide the tears that wouldn’t go away. I heard the bagpipes being played. It was a sad sound. I sat down and finally looked up to see all 4,000 seats full. I saw the red, white and blue flowers that surrounded Tyler’s flagged draped coffin and pictures of Tyler as a child to the American Hero. The actual service is hard to remember but I do remember crying.

Burial – We left the auditorium to head to the cemetery. I was surprised at how many people still lined the roads with their flags. As we pulled in, all I could see were flags. Flags being held by the Patriot Guard members, a flag draped on Tyler’s coffin, and supporters holding flags. While I watched through my tears, I witnessed the soldiers folding the flag that once draped Tyler’s casket. I realized how sad it was that it took this type of experience for me to see just how gorgeous our flag is. Our flag that represents freedom, liberty, justice, and America. A flag that Americans, hundreds of years ago and still today, risk their lives for and all that it represents. Americans like Tyler. The preacher had spoken about how Tyler’s headstone says 1986-2009, but the numbers didn’t matter, it was how Tyler had spent his “dash”. I realized that I wanted to spend my “dash” making as big an impact and difference as Tyler did, and I wanted to start now. I wanted to make a difference. I was changed.

Until my next blog,
Young Patriot

Number of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command As of July, 29 2010: 5589 **July 2010 is the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Afghanistan with a record high of 66 casualties**


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Criteria

August 2, 2010

What is it and how it applies to claims.

PTSD criteria are the guidelines that the VA uses to diagnosis and establish if you have PTSD.

First, to be successful in a claim for PTSD benefits, you must prove two things to the VA;
1. You must have a diagnosis of PTSD, and
2. You must prove the stressor OR traumatic event that occurred in service that caused your PTSD.

Diagnosis of PTSD

Simply put, you must go to a doctor (preferably a psychiatrist or psychologist) and receive a diagnosis of PTSD to satisfy this criterion. For those veterans who see a VA doctor, please go to ROI (Release of Information) and request a copy of your VA psychology records and confirm that the VA doctor has diagnosed you with PTSD. I have seen many instances whereby a veteran comes in to our office and wants to file a claim for PTSD; when we check their VA medical records for a diagnosis we find out that the VA doctor has actually diagnosed them with anxiety, depression or adjustment disorder, NOT PTSD. Just because you are in a PTSD support group, seeing a “PTSD doctor” or taking medication, don’t assume you have been diagnosed with PTSD…confirm your diagnosis! If you have never seen a doctor and suspect you may have PTSD, do your homework and read up on PTSD on the internet, library or see your service officer. Inform yourself of what PTSD is and its symptoms. This will greatly improve your chances of getting the correct diagnosis and not just being labeled with “depression.”

If you see a civilian doctor, bring in a copy of your records to your service officer so that your diagnosis can be confirmed and that those records can be sent to the VA on your behalf. You can sign a “Release of Information” (VA Form 21-4142) to allow the VA to request a copy of your civilian records, BUT if your doctor never sends the copy or the VA never receives or files it to your folder, you may be denied benefits. It is in your best interest to get the records yourself and have your service officer submit them for you.

Stressor OR traumatic event

The new rule of July 2010 has changed this criteria. Prior to this you had to prove that a combat OR life threatening event occurred while you were in service that caused your PTSD. The VA rule change has relaxed this requirement – I explained that in my last post. Still, with that being said, if you received a combat medal – Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB), Combat Action Badge (CAB), Purple Heart (PH) or any other combat medal – this will satisfy the stressor requirement. BUT not every solider received a combat medal, even if they saw combat, due to the fact of human error and paperwork not being completed or lost. This does not mean you can’t prove your combat experience. Fill out a VA Form 21-0781, Statement in Support of Claim for PTSD. This form is designed to tell the VA who, what, where, when and how you were involved in a combat or life threatening situation. The VA is then required to search records with the information you gave them to verify the information. Do not get emotional or personal in this form as you are simply trying to give VA information as to the what, when and where this incident occurred. Numerous claims have been denied sole because the veteran does NOT complete this. Don’t assume the VA with work to verify your stressor if you don’t give them the information to work with. Also, Google search the internet for your fellow service members who you were stationed with. Have them write you a “buddy letter.” The letter should have their full name, address, phone number, social security number, dates of service, location of where they were stationed with you an then have them simply state what happened. They must also sign their letter. Include in both your 21-0781 statement and your buddy letters any fellow soldiers names that were wounded or killed in action as we know accurate records were kept on these incidents and are easy to verify. Did you write or email home while in service? Did your family, spouse or others keep these letters? Statements made in those letters need to be submitted to the VA as they support your stressor.

This rule change on PTSD in new. No one knows for sure what the pitfalls may be with it yet and anyone that has dealt with the VA knows that it can be an uphill battle for benefits. If it were possible to prove my stressor, I would still do the leg work and complete all the necessary paperwork to do this – more is always better than less. In other words, error in your favor, not the VA’s.

Next week, PTSD criteria in regards to your Compensation and Pension Exam…..

Until then, enjoy your summer!

Juliana Hensler
National Service Officer
Military Order of the Purple Heart

Missouri POW / MIA

July 20, 2010

Missouri POW / MIA

Sponsored By
Rolling Thunder MO Chapter 3

Sunday, Sept 12th, 2010
In Honor of our Missouri POW/MIA’s

Met at Carthage VFW Parking Lot at 10:00 AM on Sunday, Sept 12, 2010
Will Leave Promptly at 11:00 AM for Mt. Vernon Veterans Home. Will leave veteran’s home at 12:30 to depart for Monett park At F4 Phantom Jet.
Ceremony begins at 2:00 PM at Monett Park

Carthage VFW is off HWY 96, 1st Exit 1 Mile West of Carthage

We refuse to forget them and until they are brought home or there is a full accounting of all: We will continue to remember.

We invite all to ride with us. If you do not ride a motorcycle, slap some flags or banners on your vehicle and join us.

For more information, call 417-849-8964

The Young Patriot

July 20, 2010

Before I start, I would like to say thank you to the wonderful staff of Veterans Galleria for giving me this awesome opportunity. It really means a lot, so THANK YOU!!!!!!

Who am I? I am a 13 year old American who goes by the name “Young Patriot.” I am the founder and president of The Tyler Project. The Tyler Project is a club I started after my cousin, Sgt. Tyler A. Juden, was killed in action in Afghanistan in September of 2009. In the club, members learn about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and why we are there, learn about the American flag and how to respect it, and learn how to be patriotic. We also learn how to better support our troops by sending care packages to them overseas. So far, we have sent over 4 shipments, each with 10-30 boxes. To be a member of The Tyler project you don’t have to be for or against the war, but should be “for” our troops.

Since the club is named after my cousin Tyler, you are probably wanting to know who he was and a little bit about him. When he died, he was only 23 years old. He was a Sniper

Section Leader and was on his second tour in Afghanistan. He was assigned to Troop C, 4th Squadron, 73rd Calvary Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. He was awarded many decorations, including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He was from Winfield, Kansas. He was a son, brother, grandson, a cousin, a nephew, and a great friend to many. He was a respected athlete, runner, and competitive shooter. He first shot a gun at the age of 4 (at a bumble bee in his garage…and hit it!).

Following is a copy of the speech I gave at my schools annual Veteran’s Day Assembly in 2009 that launched The Tyler Project:

The Tyler Project
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Branson Junior High Veteran’s Day Assembly

Fellow students, faculty and distinguished guests. On September 12th, 2009, my cousin, Sgt. Tyler A. Juden, was killed in action in Turan, Afghanistan by enemy fire. Unfortunately, Tyler is just one of over 5,000 American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last eight years. That’s over 5,000 fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters…and cousins.

I had the painful, yet life changing experience of seeing a true American hero brought home. Along with 500 Patriot Guard members and approximately 3000-4,000 other people, my family and I paid our final respects to our fallen soldier. During the two day period of Tyler’s final homecoming, I saw patriotism as I’ve never experienced it before. I saw Americans, from young to old, black to white, and rich to poor, lining the highways and streets together, most holding American flags. Some were crying, many were saluting, and all were honoring my cousin Tyler and the sacrifice he made for our great country. It struck me through all of this that patriotism shouldn’t only be shown when soldiers die. They need our support constantly. I also realized that I didn’t understand why we were at war. It was then that I decided I needed to change. I wanted to be patriotic, but I also wanted to know more about the world and why American soldiers need to fight and die in places so far away.

Who WAS Tyler? He was the son of Bob and Reatha, the brother of Jacey, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, a great friend, a competitive shooter, a camp counselor, a football player, and a runner. He loved God, his country, his family; and he loved to drive in his truck with his windows down. Tyler was a Sniper Section Leader and was on his second tour in Afghanistan. He was assigned to Troop C, 4th Squadron, 73rd Calvary Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. He was awarded many decorations, including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He was a leader amongst his peers. He was a mighty man of valor.

Who IS Tyler? He is one of many true American Heroes and is an inspiration to many people who knew him. It is in his memory, and in honor of all the troops who so bravely put their lives on the line for our freedoms, that I introduce to you: The Tyler Project.

The Tyler Project will be a new club here at the Branson Junior High School that will meet on a regular basis with Mrs. Ivey as our sponsor. There are two main objectives of the club. First, we will learn about the history of the war and how it has affected many of us personally, and how it has affected our country. We may be young, but we are still Americans, and we should know about things our country considers important enough to risk lives for. Eventually, it will be our generation who is in charge. Second, we will make care packages to send over to the troops. We can collect much needed supplies and ship them to actively serving family members and friends of club members. We can go out into our community and encourage local businesses to sponsor packages and cover shipping costs. Though young, we can take the lead and be examples to our entire city, community, state, and maybe even our country, on what it means to be active and effective American citizens.

I am inviting you to become a member of The Tyler Project. Hopefully, what we do here at BJHS will eventually spread to other schools. Whether you support the war or not, we are ALL Americans. Let’s show pride in our country and show our soldiers that we support them. I wish I could turn back time and let Tyler know just how proud I was of him….let’s not let it be too late to show our pride for those who remain. In the memory of Tyler and all the American soldiers who have given their life for us, may we never forget their sacrifice. For those who continue to fight, I hope they may all come home safely. And for those who do return, let us not forget to thank them.

Thank You.

To learn more you can visit our Facebook page: The Tyler Project, email us at , or simply just read my upcoming blogs.

Until my next blog,
The Young Patriot

Number of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command (as of 07/18/2012): 5,560

Questions and Answers for New PTSD Rule

July 16, 2010

Hello all,

As most of you probably all ready know, the VA announced this week, July 12, 2010, new rules to “relax” the criteria for stressors for PTSD claims.

What does this mean? To be successful in a claim for PTSD, the veteran has to have a DIAGNOSIS of PTSD, have a proven stressor and a proven nexus, which is that the event that caused the PTSD occurred in service.

Under the new rule, VA would not require corroboration of a stressor related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity if a VA doctor confirms that the the stressful experience recalled by a Veteran adequately supports a diagnosis of PTSD and the Veteran’s symptoms are related to the claimed stressor.

What this all basically means is that if a veteran applies for a disability benefit for PTSD, they still need to have a diagnosis, BUT when it comes to the “stressor” the veteran only needs a VA doctor to confirm that the stressful experience that the veteran had was related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity. In previous claims, the veteran had to prove with a combat medal, or some proof, that they experienced a combat or life threatening experience for the nexus requirement. Now, with the change in the rule, a veteran needs only to prove that he was exposed to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity.

If you have previously filed for PTSD, and were denied, you may want to take a copy of your previously denied decision and see a service officer in your area. If your claim was denied, due to stressor, or proving a combat or life threatening event occurred, you may be able to “re-open” that previously denied claim and get a grant of benefits with this new law change. See a service officer!

I have enclosed some basic question and answers on this change to help answer your questions.

Questions and Answers for New PTSD Rule

Q. I heard that VA has changed the regulations for PTSD claims. What has changed?

A. VA has amended its rules for processing disability compensation claims for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The new rule eliminates the requirement for corroborating evidence of the claimed in-service stressor if it is related to the Veteran’s “fear of hostile military or terrorist activity”.

Q. What are the new requirements of this change?

A. This new rule now requires that the following be demonstrated to establish service connection for PTSD:

  • The claimed stressor is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the Veteran’s service;
  • A VA psychiatrist or psychologist, or contract equivalent, confirms that the claimed stressor is adequate to support a diagnosis of PTSD; and
  • The Veteran’s symptoms are related to the claimed stressor.

Q. When does this new rule take effect?

A. The new rule is effective on July 12, 2010. The rule is applicable to all PTSD service connected claims, including appeals, that are:

  • Pending before VA, or received on or after, July 12, 2010;
  • Pending before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals; or
  • Pending before VA on or after July 12, 2010, because the Veterans Court vacated and remanded a Board decision.

Q. I claimed PTSD before and was denied. If I reopen now, will VA go back to when I first claimed PTSD?

A. If service connection for PTSD is granted under the amended regulation, the effective date will be no earlier than July 12, 2010, the date the new rule went into effect.

Q. I currently have a PTSD claim (or appeal) for service connection pending at the regional office and am waiting for a decision. What do I have to do?

A. Nothing. This new rule will be applied to any pending claim (or appeal) involving service connection for PTSD.

Q. Should I still provide proof of my combat medals?

A. You should always submit any evidence that would support your claim.

Q. I claimed PTSD. Will I be scheduled for a VA exam?

A. Your claim will be reviewed and, if a VA exam is necessary, you will receive a separate notification letter with reporting instructions.

Q. My private physician has already diagnosed me with PTSD. Do I have to report for a VA exam?

A. A private report or diagnosis is not adequate for establishing service connection for PTSD; therefore, a VA exam will be required. You should submit this supporting evidence from your doctor, or we can request those for you. (PCR must offer VA Form 21-4142 and document evidence on VA Form 21-0820. Refer VA Form 21-0820 to SOJ.)

Q. I have been denied service connection for PTSD in the past. How do I reapply?

A. We will have to reopen your claim. (PCR must take claim on VA Form 21-0820 and refer to SOJ.)

Q. Does this change regarding PTSD apply to any Veteran?

A. Yes. This change applies to all veterans, regardless of when they served.

Send questions to email

Sincerely ,

Juliana Hensler
National Service Officer
Military Order of the Purple Heart

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