March 2007


My brother is in the Army National Guard and I hope no President ever uses him for a prop for their photo-ops.

—Freckles

(from Crooks and Liars)

Generals To Bush: “Soldiers Not Props”

I have all sorts of snarky things to say about this, mostly on the plane that all soldiers have ever been to Bush are props, but I think these pictures say it better:

bush-soldiers.jpg bushteleconferencewire.jpg

Chicago Tribune (thanks to all the C&Lers who sent this link)

A trio of retired generals concerned that President Bush might use his scheduled appearance this afternoon at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to try and score political points against Democrats, urged the president, via a teleconference with reporters, to focus strictly on the problems with military medical care.

The generals were spurred into action by news reports that suggested the president might use the event to take on Democrats as both sides clash over the Iraq and Afghanistan spending bills just passed by the Senate and House which include timelines Bush fiercely opposes for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

Some of the pointiest of comments came from retired Army Major Gen. Paul Eaton [..]:

I’m equally happy, Gen. Garde is on target, that the president is going to visit our wounded soldiers. I’m convinced that he would honor them more if he would refrain from using soldiers as props in political theater.

We have a commander-in-chief who does very well when he is unscripted, unrehearsed and engaging with soldiers. But too often those who handle his performances try to turn the American fighting man and woman into a political prop for the scenery.

So I would be very happy to see him do the Water Reed visit more like the commander and secondarily as an inspector general instead of as a politician. The inspector general in the U.S. army is the fellow charged with ferreting out problems such as Walter Reed and delivering the nature of the problem to the commander. So it is best that the commander in chief pursue this visit to Walter Reed as commander in fact of the American fighting man and the American fighting woman.

All I can say to Gen. Eaton: Well done, sir.

President Bush eating with soldiers

President Bush with wounded soldiers

President Bush with soldiers

Advertisements

Is this what the Bush administration considers SUPPORTING THE TROOPS??? This is a horrible thing and they should be ashamed of themselves taking advantage of wounded soldiers and lying to them.

My brother is in the National Guard and I hope that he and his friends read all papers really careful before they sign anything.

The Nation Logo


How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits

by JOSHUA KORS

[from the April 9, 2007 issue]

Jon Town has spent the last few years fighting two battles, one against his body, the other against the US Army. Both began in October 2004 in Ramadi, Iraq. He was standing in the doorway of his battalion’s headquarters when a 107-millimeter rocket struck two feet above his head. The impact punched a piano-sized hole in the concrete facade, sparked a huge fireball and tossed the 25-year-old Army specialist to the floor, where he lay blacked out among the rubble.

“The next thing I remember is waking up on the ground.” Men from his unit had gathered around his body and were screaming his name. “They started shaking me. But I was numb all over,” he says. “And it’s weird because… because for a few minutes you feel like you’re not really there. I could see them, but I couldn’t hear them. I couldn’t hear anything. I started shaking because I thought I was dead.”

Eventually the rocket shrapnel was removed from Town’s neck and his ears stopped leaking blood. But his hearing never really recovered, and in many ways, neither has his life. A soldier honored twelve times during his seven years in uniform, Town has spent the last three struggling with deafness, memory failure and depression. By September 2006 he and the Army agreed he was no longer combat-ready.

But instead of sending Town to a medical board and discharging him because of his injuries, doctors at Fort Carson, Colorado, did something strange: They claimed Town’s wounds were actually caused by a “personality disorder.” Town was then booted from the Army and told that under a personality disorder discharge, he would never receive disability or medical benefits.

Town is not alone. A six-month investigation has uncovered multiple cases in which soldiers wounded in Iraq are suspiciously diagnosed as having a personality disorder, then prevented from collecting benefits. The conditions of their discharge have infuriated many in the military community, including the injured soldiers and their families, veterans’ rights groups, even military officials required to process these dismissals.

They say the military is purposely misdiagnosing soldiers like Town and that it’s doing so for one reason: to cheat them out of a lifetime of disability and medical benefits, thereby saving billions in expenses.

The Fine Print

In the Army’s separations manual it’s called Regulation 635-200, Chapter 5-13: “Separation Because of Personality Disorder.” It’s an alluring choice for a cash-strapped military because enacting it is quick and cheap. The Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t have to provide medical care to soldiers dismissed with personality disorder. That’s because under Chapter 5-13, personality disorder is a pre-existing condition. The VA is only required to treat wounds sustained during service.

Soldiers discharged under 5-13 can’t collect disability pay either. To receive those benefits, a soldier must be evaluated by a medical board, which must confirm that he is wounded and that his wounds stem from combat. The process takes several months, in contrast with a 5-13 discharge, which can be wrapped up in a few days.

If a soldier dismissed under 5-13 hasn’t served out his contract, he has to give back a slice of his re-enlistment bonus as well. That amount is often larger than the soldier’s final paycheck. As a result, on the day of their discharge, many injured vets learn that they owe the Army several thousand dollars.

One military official says doctors at his base are doing more than withholding this information from wounded soldiers; they’re actually telling them the opposite: that if they go along with a 5-13, they’ll get to keep their bonus and receive disability and medical benefits. The official, who demanded anonymity, handles discharge papers at a prominent Army facility. He says the soldiers he works with know they don’t have a personality disorder. “But the doctors are telling them, this will get you out quicker, and the VA will take care of you. To stay out of Iraq, a soldier will take that in a heartbeat. What they don’t realize is, those things are lies. The soldiers, they don’t read the fine print,” he says. “They don’t know to ask for a med board. They’re taking the word of the doctors. Then they sit down with me and find out what a 5-13 really means–they’re shocked.”

Russell Terry, founder of the Iraq War Veterans Organization (IWVO), says he’s watched this scenario play itself out many times. For more than a year, his veterans’ rights group has been receiving calls from distraught soldiers discharged under Chapter 5-13. Most, he says, say their military doctors pushed the personality disorder diagnosis, strained to prove that their problems existed before their service in Iraq and refused to acknowledge evidence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury and physical traumas, which would allow them to collect disability and medical benefits.

“These soldiers are coming home from Iraq with all kinds of problems,” Terry says. “They go to the VA for treatment, and they’re turned away. They’re told, ‘No, you have a pre-existing condition, something from childhood.'” That leap in logic boils Terry’s blood. “Everybody receives a psychological screening when they join the military. What I want to know is, if all these soldiers really did have a severe pre-existing condition, how did they get into the military in the first place?”

(more…)

Hey guys, I’m Brendon and I am going to be cross-posting here. If you would like to read some of my other posts, you can check out NKBPhoto.com. The main thing you should know about me is that I am always up for an educated debate on almost any topic.

This man is walking from California all the way to Washington DC to protest against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Check out his website.

Freckles

wtetw4.JPG

 

Walk To End The Wars

 

My name is Bill McDannell. I am a father of five and grandfather of
four. I am a Vietnam era veteran and a former pastor of the United
Methodist Church. Despite considerable evidence to the contrary, I
still firmly believe that, as a citizen of the United States of
America, I have a voice in the activities of our country, and that my
voice can be heard and can have an impact.

On Saturday, November 4th, 2006 I began to put that belief to the
test. Mindful of my constitutional right to petition my government, on
that date I left my home in Lakeside, California to begin a walk that
will end in Washington, D.C. I am carrying with me a petition I intend
to present to both the executive and legislative branches of our
government requesting that we, as a nation, declare an immediate end to
the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I am only one person, and do not pretend to have the individual
wisdom to dictate exactly what actions should take place as a result of
a declaration of the end of the wars. In fact, this is the reason I am
walking to Washington. I expect it will take me nine or ten months to
walk from California to Washington, D.C., and I believe that the
leaders who managed to figure out a way to get us into these wars in
just a few months ought to be able to figure out a way to get us out by
the time I arrive. The details of how many of our sons and daughters in
the military will be brought home and how soon they will arrive home
must be left to those more familiar with the logistics than myself, but
I certainly believe that a declaration that the wars are over must come
immediately and that, with the wars officially over, our sons and
daughters should begin to return home immediately.

The basis for my petition is quite simple. First, regarding the war
in Iraq. We the people of the United States of America have been given
several reasons why we went to war with Iraq in the first place:

1. We have been told that we went to war to liberate the people of
Iraq from the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. We have accomplished
that. Saddam Hussein has been deposed, tried, convicted and executed.

2. We have been told that we went to war to locate and destroy
weapons of mass destruction and the capability to deliver them. We have
discovered that there were no weapons of mass destruction, neither was
there any means to deliver such weapons. (more…)

UPDATE: Michael Stettler will be interviewed on the radio on Monday 3/26/07 in the third hour of Bob Kincaid’s show on Head-On. The show is on from 6-9pm Eastern time.

This article is cross posted at Political Teen Tidbits and the Texas Mission Site.

destruction of houses in PascagoulaPascagoula, Mississippi is one of those places that’s really hard to spell. Maybe that is why FEMA and the assistance organizations are having such a hard time finding it.

Or

maybe not.

Pascagoula is the county seat for Jackson County and had 26,200 people in 2000 according to its census. Here you can find the history of the city.


Michael Stettler is currently in Pascagoula, Mississippi as a volunteer with the Jackson County Community Services Coalition.

Michael is an electrician and a congressional candidate but a lot of what he is doing in Mississippi is assessing the housing needs of the clients Jim Yancey sees at Jackson County Community Services Coalition.

mold and damage in a house in PascagoulaMichael (or Stetty) is working and living in an old school gym that is still set up as a shelter 19 months after Hurricane Katrina hit, but he is driving to houses all over Jackson County that are still not fixed up. He is helping to see what they need, and then other people help get it installed. There are also lots of volunteers and college students on Spring Break that help with the construction.

Some homeowners got some money from FEMA but they got ripped off by contractors and roofers. Some families have not gotten any money or not nearly enough money. Stetty reports that although 95% of homeowners have at least had their assessment done, he hasn’t seen any houses that are completely fixed from the hurricane’s wind and water. He has met many people whose houses still smell terrible from water damage and mold, and no one has cleaned up the mold or put in new carpets or floors.

Look at this map of Pascagoula.

Google Map Of Pascagoula

The oval looking white area is where thousands and thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina a year and a half ago still live in very unsafe trailer park. All of the blue squares are where people still have tarps instead of real roof for their houses.

More pix here (click to enlarge):

pascagoula03.jpg  pascagoula05.jpg  pascagoula07.jpg

Please write to all of your representatives and senators in Washington and tell them that we can’t let Americans keep on living like this. It is unAmerican!

Trailer park in Pascagoula

administration sour 16 bracket

cp.gif

Wariness

heck of a job

flight suit

congressional oversight

Next Page »