Archive for the ‘veterans’ category

R.I.P. Paul Newman – An additional thought

September 28, 2008

Paul was 83 when he died. He had an enormously successful career playing some of the most memorable characters in Hollywood history. Just as important though, he was a gracious and generous man and a man committed to a long lasting (very rare in Tinsletown) marriage.

Because of his success in the entertainment industy, Newman was also able to afford his dreams when it came to car racing and philanthropy. 83 years is a pretty long life, and it seems he had a rich and fulfilling one.

In contrast, the unpublicized 23 American young people who were killed in Iraq in the month of September did not have a long lasting or fulfilling life. They might have, had they lived, but they didn’t. Nor did the 23 killed in August or the 19 killed in July or the 29 killed in June.

We don’t know their names, or their family histories, or their talents, or their dreams or anything else about them. It didn’t get any press except in the towns that they used to call home. They were all young and we will never have a chance to know if they might have become famous, rich, philanthropic or exceptional. Because, just like Paul Newman, they are dead.

In a couple of days, it will be October. Thirty one days later, it will be November. During that month, if history is any measure, another 20 to 30 Americans will be killed in the Iraq war – the one that the American people don’t want but refuse to do anything about. Their deaths, like the 4000+ who came before them, are blood on your frightened, ignorant and idle hands.

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Former Classmate and POW speaks out on McCain

September 7, 2008

H/t to Bob at 9 Pound Hammer for posting this. This guy certainly has the qualifications to say what he does.

Oregon: Vet Suicides Skyrocket

August 24, 2008

This part of the nightmare just keeps getting worse. VCS reports that more troops from Oregon are dying of suicide than from the war itself.

In 2005, 19 Oregon soldiers were killed in combat. In that same year, 153 Oregon veterans of all ages committed suicide.

The group facing the highest risk of suicide is veterans between 18 and 24 years old. Portland VA officials told The Portland Tribune that Oregon vets made almost 900 calls to the National VA Suicide Hotline in the last year.

I just don’t understand why people cannot get it through their heads that men and women coming back from the war MUST have a sophisticated and professionally applied debriefing period to learn how to cope with what they have seen and done. Is it because we still have this John Wayne, movie vision of what war is? Is it because we back home just don’t want to have to face it ourselves or admit how badly we’ve all screwed up?

Why state governments are not stepping up to the plate on this issue is beyond me. And I’m not talking about offering counseling or mental health, I’m talking about installing a mandatory program that each and every veteran must attend, be assessed, and if necessary receive further treatment – free of charge.

Forcing these brave young men and women to go and fight this dirty war – many having to go repeatedly and some being forced to go even after their enlistment ends – is bad enough. To not give them every possible chance for a successful return to civilian life is indecent and immoral.

Iraq. Remember?

August 22, 2008

Marty on the Homefront has several posts up that are no less than necessary reading at this time. The first is a secret tape made of an army recruiter threatening a potential recruit. The second is a post – the final post – of an American soldier who used to have a blog. It is one of the best things I have ever read. It’s long. Read it.

Link to this blog. It’s a good one.

US Vets refused the right to vote?

July 23, 2008

Almost. Secretary of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, James Peake, continues to refuse to allow non-partisan groups from helping vets register to vote. Like everything else being revealed about the real treatment our vets receive when they come home, this is a national disgrace.

Peake, if this order stands, you’re nothing but a pig just like your boss.

Wounded vets and amputees who have no mobility and thus cannot get out of the VA hospitals to register are shit out of luck. Because Peake will not allow even The League of Women Voters to assist them to register. His reason? It would interfere with the quality of their medical care! I guess Peake hasn’t been following the news which has told us repeatedly that there IS NO quality medical care in the VA facilities.

What is the real reason? These vets, like all the Iraq and Afghanistan vets are volunteers, every one. We must assume that they supported the war. Why not let them register to vote?  Um, it couldn’t be that the administration is worried that these tens of thousands of wounded vets might be having second thoughts about the war, could it? That maybe now that they have been there, seen it up close and personal, experienced the truth of the Iraqi horror, that they might vote for someone who promises to end it? That maybe they will vote for anyone who might spare their buddies from possibly becoming victims like them?

I don’t know the reason. I’m just a dumb old fart with a computer. But I do know that we should be bending over backwards to insure that our vets have access to every single American right and priviledge that they have volunteered to fight and die for. And, as I understand it, despite administrations attempts to manipulate it, voting is still an American right.

Ted Stevens & James Peake Hate Veterans

May 31, 2008

At Memorial Day events in Alaska, both Senator Ted Stevens and VA secretary James Peake decided that, instead of honoring veterans, it was a good day to try to screw them over – again. Stevens warned of a “mass exodus” from the military if the 21st Century GI Bill goes into law without major changes.

In other words, don’t give them full college benefits after their tour is up (like he got after WWII service) because, heaven forbid, they might want to actually get out of the military when they are supposed to and use those benefits. They might not stay in the military so they can be rotated back to Iraq over and over and over again until they get wounded or killed, their marriage falls apart, or they finally commit suicide.

Instead of that Ted, why don’t you reinstate the draft and solve all of those problems once and for all? Maybe because you’re a political coward and don’t give a shit about our soldiers? Or even worse, maybe because some rich donors son might have to go “serve his country” along with all of the poor ones that already are. Can’t have that.

Peake did his part to humiliate the vets by insisting that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is over diagnosed, attaching a stigma to PTSD that the mental health and veterans community have worked hard to remove.

Now isn’t THAT a load of Bushco doublespeaking crap. Does anyone agree that the VA should be a completely independent agency and the head of it should NOT be appointed by the president? On the other hand, does anyone remember the VA ever being so political and involved in conflict before? I don’t.

“What Stevens and the Bush Administration said this weekend was unfounded and disappointing,” Begich said. “While Stevens had his college education fully paid for after serving in WWII, he now wants to hold today’s veterans hostage by not offering them full college benefits. Our veterans deserve care and support for their service, but Stevens and the Bush administration prefer to deny them those benefits.”

Peake and Stevens. Two more war criminals for the firing squad.

To Serve or not to Serve – A Primer

May 18, 2008

The military, specifically the army and marines, is desperately trying to meet recruitment quotas to fill the dwindling ranks of available troops needed to continue the war crimes war in Iraq. The recruiters are essentially salespeople. Just what is it they have to sell to you, the potential recruit?

As a new recruit you will receive free housing – in barracks that were built in 1940, are in a miserable state of disrepair, are infested with god knows what kinds of vermin, and where you don’t get to have the top bunk, you need to have the top bunk to avoid the rising level of flooding sewage. And you get to have supervisors who are apparently so stupid and so blind that they don’t recognize the problem until it appears in the newspapers.

As a new recruit you will receive free medical care. This is really important because chances are very good, considering where you’re going to be serving, that you are gonna need lots of medical care. This care will be delivered within no more than a year or two from the time you need it and, if you are an inpatient, its very likely that you will be housed in a facility just about as filthy and infested as your barracks. You should feel right at home.

(Caution 1: Do keep in mind that your Commander in Chief has declared that your free medical benefits are a privilege, not a right, and you may be judged unworthy to receive them.
Caution 2: Being a good Republican, the last thing your Commander in Chief wants is a bunch of troops who really know what the war is like voting in the upcoming election. So if you want to exercise your right as an American to register to vote while you recover from your wounds, have someone from outside assist you. The VA has been instructed not to.))

As a new recruit you will receive free mental health care. Maybe. Or maybe you won’t. It all depends on how successful the VA is in covering up your suicidal tendencies or intentionally misdiagnosing your PTSD in order to protect the administration and save money. If they are successful (and they have a good track record) and you end up committing suicide, don’t be afraid that your case will be lost among the other thousands of vets who commit suicide each year. The VA will manipulate those numbers so it appears that you are just one of hundreds, not thousands.

As a new recruit you will have access to religious services and even organized faith groups where you can study and worship with your peers. These are only Christian groups of course as America is a Christian nation. If you happen to be of another faith, and don’t elect to participate, that is your choice. You will probably be humiliated, physically abused or otherwise derided for it but it is your choice. The military is all about choices.

As a new recruit you may be trained by superiors (sergeants) who have already served in the war and bring the benefits of their experiences to your training. However, they may be among the thousands who have untreated PTSD or mind altering brain injuries so caution is advised. Especially on the rifle range.

It is very likely that your superiors are as poorly educated as you are because they joined up for the same reason that you did. Like you, they are from poor families, from miserably poor areas with miserably poor education systems, and the best way, perhaps the only way, that they and you can get into college is to have the military pay for it. If they, and you survive that long.

Speaking of education, as a new recruit you are eligible for college assistance. Maybe. Your superiors may, as they have done in the past, decide that your enlistment period falls one day short of the required time for eligibility, apologize for your misunderstanding of the procedures, and send you home to pay for your own damn education. Your a soldier. Don’t whine about it.

In any case, keep a close eye on the current legislation because your Commander in Chief is ever vigilant in his efforts to reduce your education benefits. His belief is that if the soldiers knew they had good education benefits waiting for them, they wouldn’t stay in the military. They would get out. And we can’t have that. Not when it’s so hard getting them to join in the first place. I’m sure you agree that we all have to sacrifice for the war effort. You give up your promised education benefit and maybe your legs or arms or eyes or even your life. He gives up golf. It all helps out.

As a recruit you get to travel and see the world. The popular stop right now is Iraq. If you get to go at all, you get to stay for 12 months. Actually, check that, its probably going to be 15 months. And you’ll get to go multiple times. You will get short breaks in between to say hello and goodbye to your increasingly estranged family. Its best that you don’t spend too much time with them anyway because they will be horrified at the frightening changes that have come over you since your last visit.

While you are in Iraq you will be trying to kill Iraqi people and Iraqi people will be trying to kill you. They will be trying to kill you because we invaded their country for no reason, destroyed their culture and slaughtered their families. You will be trying to kill them because they had nothing to do with 9-11. Its a perfect fit.

These are not all of the key selling points the recruiters have at their fingertips but its a start. I haven’t even touched upon the pay or the close camaraderie between fellow troops, whether on the battlefield, in the hospital, in the amputee rehab facility or in the mental health ward. I haven’t even mentioned the available legal services whose efforts will not only assure that you won’t be held responsible for any of those pesky war crimes that you may be ordered to commit, but may even help with the divorce from that utterly horrified wife that I mentioned above.

And finally, I have not even broached the career possibilities and opportunities for advancement. The military offers its career enlisted people low but dependable pay, mediocre to poor medical care, substandard housing and food, and poor supervision all in a drab, colorless and/or hostile environment.

On the positive side, don’t think that your lack of education and insight will hold you back because it won’t. I’ve been in the army myself and I have had staff sergeants, SFC’s, master sergeants and even a Command Sergeant Major who were still just as narrow minded and dumb as a doorknob as the day they joined up. And while staying in does increase the possibility of losing life or body parts, I think its clear that the benefits, if you are lucky enough to get them, far outweigh the risks.