Lietta Ruger; profile in speaking out as military family, as a citizen civil activist on Iraq war

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It's Been A Mean Week This Week

Published at Suite 101,  June 7, 2005

Mother's Day; opposing the war of men. Military Mother's thoughts.

Sat May 7th, 2005 at 10:52:43 PDT

  This weekend being Mother's Day, I want to share an article by Geov Parrish on the origins of Mother's Day as Julia Ward Howe's strident call for women to come together to oppose the war of men.  See it at this link

  As a military family, I have spent most of the past 2 + years in my own efforts to speak out in challenging the validity of the war in Iraq.  I will spend Mother's Day doing the same.  In my affiliation with other military families, I sometimes will get updates from a family that speaks of the situation with their loved one in Iraq, as well as updates from my own Iraq veteran loved ones.  This week was a particularly mean week for information that speaks to how difficult it is becoming for the military to hold it together in Iraq.   

Upon hearing of 4 distinctly different accounts from different military families of deceptive recruitment practices; deceptive re-enlistment practices, extensions and retention using 'Stop Loss', there is a commonality to each instance as part of the same issue.  The military, having employed every creative measure it can employ to meet the goals as set by this administration in Iraq has no choice But to deal with realities of shortages.

Here is something I felt compelled to write this week as my own reaction and response to this week’s information. 

 ... first paragraph snipped...

I'd say this points strongly to re-enlistment issues, recruitment crisis issues, retention issues and is an indicator of how desperate the situation for our military is becoming.  One of my growing private concerns has been that as military recruitment numbers are on the decline for the 4th month running, that our already deployed and about to be deployed loved ones would have to somehow take up the slack with even more burden than they are already carrying.

The disproportionate weight grows while media blackout continues to shield the American public from vital information about the well being of their own troops.  The administration HAS to know just how large a problem the shortfalls are in manpower (no gender sleight intended), armor, vehicles, and equipment.   Yet the administration is busily sending out upbeat reports as quickly as we get any information that shows how large the problem has become. 

This is not the time to take a back seat, if anything; this is the time to do whatever can be done to get the information spread as far as it can be spread given the limitations (barriers?) to media's willingness to report.  Look, I don't want to see a 'draft' or more of our young being deceptively recruited and sent to Iraq and yet neither do I want to see our already deployed having to take on even more because of shortages.

We simply cannot continue to expect our troops to sustain given the present conditions and shortfalls.  Extended tours in combat, repeat tours in combat (just this morning another military family was telling me about her loved one's 3rd deployment to Iraq), 70 % of our troops deaths and wounded are result of IED's, 1 million have already served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and on and on goes the list.

In my opinion, the problem is substantial enough to warrant a full-blown demand to know the realities and conditions for our troops now, not 6 months from now or years from now in some sort of rational historical dissection and reflection of the war in Iraq.   Something has to be done, the irresponsibility and outright neglect in actually supporting our troops deployed in combat is an American problem; a citizen's problem; a political problem; a spiritual/religious problem; a military problem; and a cultural problem.  It belongs center stage in the dialogue Now!   And if we can't gain any ground in our message to bring the troops home, at the very least, we can try to look out for their welfare while they are deployed and that is simply not being done by the parties most responsible and accountable to look out for our military troops.

When I learn as I did this week, from a reliable source, that Rumsfeld is planning a visit to the unit about to be deployed to Iraq and is told by the unit Commanding Officer  'Do not ask Rumsfeld about up armored humvees on threat of an Article 15'  it makes me wonder just where the troops can turn when their own CO is more concerned about the politics of the situation than the troops welfare.

When I learn that a political decision was made to use the unarmored humvee because it was less intimidating to the Iraqi people than other military vehicles, it becomes outrageous that a decision made at the beginning of the war  when a different outcome was the expectation is still in place 2 + years later when it is clear the expected outcome did not happen. 

Then I further learn that it may be 'less expensive' to use the humvee than a more appropriately armored vehicle, one has to wonder who is looking out for who.  I then learn in the same week that it is possible to use 5 ton armored gun trucks in Iraq, not unlike those used in Vietnam and there are only 31 of those in use in Iraq, with an example cited of how they are saving lives.  One such truck endured an IED explosion and no lives were lost and all lives on that truck survived with relatively minor injuries.

Then I learn in the same week that it is possible to send the troops jammers that interfere with the detonation of IED explosions and the administration is just now getting around to sending those jammers to the troops.  We aren't technologically advanced enough to have figured this out months ago??  Yet it is explained away as budget problem, not enough money thus the need for the supplemental appropriation.  Meanwhile millions of unaccountable funds are not explained at all.

It's so upside down, and the most immediately affected are the troops who pay for all of this dancing around the issues with their lives, with the incredibly severe damage they sustain in multiple lost limbs, brain trauma injuries and it doesn't even speak to what the Iraqis are suffering in the midst of all of this carnage.  We know PTSD is and will continue to be an issue, meanwhile just this week I learn there are to be cuts to the care of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.  It's been a mean week this week. 

Leisure time, I paint among other things;
Winter Cabin, oil painting by Lietta Ruger

See more of Lietta's paintings at  Lietta's painting gallery