The 5 R's for military families and troops

Lietta Ruger, Profile, Military Family speaking on war in Iraq

 The 5 Rs for military families and troops;
Retention, Recruitment, Recovery, Replenish, Repolitics

I just learned we have another family member, National Guard, who deployed to Iraq this week. To my knowledge, we now have 4 in our family in military service, 3 have deployed to Iraq of which 2 are returning Iraq veterans facing second deployments to Iraq under Stop Loss. That is my immediate family.

I’m in contact with many military families who share similarities in their family experience to my own. One family has a son going for a third deployment to Iraq while the daughter returns from her deployment. In yet another family, a son is extended in Iraq beyond his contract even though he has been wounded three times already.

If I tried, I could not make this up. It goes from incredible to incredulous for military families across the country. Borrowing from the words of other military families, and borrowing from what has already been written and published, a panoramic photo forms and solidifies. It becomes difficult to dismantle with the tired spin arguments for why our troops should remain in combat in Iraq or even why they are there in the first place.

But aside from the point / counterpoint abstract arguments that serve the ego of the point of view, what is to become of our loved ones deployed? Has this country abandoned them and their families to suffer the losses while the arguing continues until someone, anyone can figure out how to get it right?

On Retention, Stop Loss, Extensions, Repeat Deployments; see this article;'Mothers on Their Soldier Sons' and read a full discussion on same article content with military families sharing their experiences at 'Stories from the Front' text

On Senior and Junior Officers Decline in the ranks; becoming a serious and under reported difficulty. Here is letter from a military mother describing the experience of her son, who is an officer. It speaks quietly yet profoundly to how the soldiers care about each other.

From Army Infantry Mom:

Everyday our son was over in Iraq I just prayed he would come home safe. He was injured but was sent back. He told us each day that he went out, he did not know if he would come back alive.

His men were more important to him than his own welfare. It was his job to keep his men alive, despite some of the orders he was given that put his men in direct danger.

Iraq has become a haven for terrorists everywhere in the Muslim world.

Because of the lack of experience in this type of war, the senior officers have no idea what is happening on the streets. This is a serious problem. The junior officers have very little say in what they do day to day. They are the ones on the front line, making life or death decisions. Seven out of eight soldiers in our sons group died not in fighting insurgents, but as sitting/walking targets.

This is happening all over Iraq. The psychological toll to junior officers is much greater than people realize. Their men are their responsibility, their loss is never forgotten.

The situation in Iraq is not getting better. It has deteriorated. Each new group that is sent over from the states starts from scratch, making the same stupid mistakes that the group they are replacing has made.

There does not seem to be adequate training for replacements in the states by people who have actually been in battle. Our son had to counter many of the things his replacements had been told to do. The junior officers who have been in Iraq should be the ones training the reservists and the National Guard. They essentially have no control, no say in how things are being run, yet they are the ones fighting in the streets everyday.

This coupled with long deployments away from loved ones, has made reenlistment for junior officers extremely undesirable. Our son did not know of any junior officers that planned on staying past their enlistment requirements. Many that he knew were extremely bitter about being stop lossed.

The responsibility of young men’s lives is too great to be taken lightly. When they see young men dying needlessly, it is unacceptable, yet they are powerless to do anything.

Our son does not want to see another soldier blown up because someone in headquarters thought it would be a good idea to check IED craters on the side of the road.

He does not want to see another soldier die or become injured permanently because headquarters want convoys to drive around all day as targets for VBIED's, or IED's.

He does not want to set up another checkpoint that does not catch insurgents, but lets units become targets for VBIEDs that drive up and blow themselves up.

Junior officers are responsible for their men. When they cannot protect their soldiers adequately from harm, they cannot do their job, nor do they want to.

There is no satisfaction in this war that is getting worse by the day. Our son said that he did not think that we had any business being in Iraq. Afghanistan, but not Iraq.

On Recruitment Practices; full scale market and research development tools in use now to attempt to overcome the current declining recruitment levels, targeting the younger generation. Read that as designed to tap your children for military service.
'An Army on (No) One: An Inside Look at the Military's Internet Recruiting War'
'Cyberstalking the Recruitable Teen'

What the military truly values is green teens. Not surprisingly, the Pentagon pays companies like Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU), which claims it offers its "clients virtually unlimited methods for researching teens," to get inside kids' heads. It was also recently revealed that the Department of Defense (DoD), with the aid of a private marketing firm, BeNow, has created a database of twelve million youngsters, some only 16 years of age, as part of a program to identify potential recruits. Armed with "names, birth dates, addresses, Social Security numbers, individuals' e-mail addresses, ethnicity, telephone numbers, students' grade-point averages, field of academic study and other data," the Pentagon now has far better ways and means of accurately targeting teens.

What we do know, however, is that JAMRS is currently focusing on the following areas of interest in an attempt to bolster the all-volunteer military:

*Hispanic Barriers to Enlistment: a project to "identify the factors contributing to under-representation of Hispanic youth among military accessions" and "inform future strategies for increasing Hispanic representation among the branches of the Military."

*College Drop Outs/Stop Outs Study: a project "aimed to gain a better understanding of what drives college students to… ‘drop out' and determine how the Services can capitalize on this group of individuals (ages 18-24)."

*Mothers' Attitude Study: "This study gauges the target audience's (270 mothers of 10th- and 11th-grade youth) attitudes toward the Military and enlistment."

Additionally, eyebrows ought to be raised over a Pentagon that is looking at ways to influence the mothers of teens to send their sons and daughters off to war and at a military eager to study what it takes to get kids to "drop out" of school and how the military might then scoop them up.

On Wounded Soldiers, Veterans; facing the hurdles thrown up within the military systems that prohibit medical care they need to recover. See this newspaper article 'The Battle after the Battle'

More on Wounded Soldiers;
A snippet of Interview with Jack Robinson, legislative director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America of Dallas, Texas.

Question; What is the process involved when someone is badly injured in Baghdad?

Jack Robinson: They get processed. Then from Baghdad, they usually go to Germany and get transferred to another aircraft. Then they go to Walter Reed. From there, they are processed out to all 50 states in different hospitals and bases. When I was up in Washington, I asked Congressman Chet Edwards how many wounded they had so far because the count I got the year before was over 15,000 wounded and maimed. He said it was into the 40 thousands. Now this is accidents, trucks, everything. That includes mortars and roadside bombs.

Read more; Who Supports the Troops, Part 1 and Part 2, Stories in America

On Depleted Uranium Troop Exposure: Louisiana recently passed legislation giving all returning veterans the right to get a best practices health screening test for exposure to depleted uranium.
'Depleted Uranium: States Take Action to Protect Their Soldiers and Veterans'

My own opinion having researched depleted uranium and soldiers potentially exposed is that it would be wiser to err on the side of caution and heed the expert opinions. Experts say, while again arguments continue in a controversial swirl of is it or isn’t it actively radioactive, that immediate and long-term health consequences compromising genetic makeup will have far-reaching impact onto generations being born and yet unborn.
See Traprock for much more detail on depleted uranium.

On Political Scene; politically just now the buzz over Karl Rove deliberately leaking identity of undercover CIA operative to media has uppermost attention on many fronts. Is it treason? Is it administrative complicity in giving aid to the ‘enemy’? Is it criminal? Is it an offense to be prosecuted? Will there be a spin that will enable Karl Rove to waltz around the issue and avoid personal responsibility and accountability? Will this Administration bite the bullet on this and step up to the plate to acknowledge the deception foisted on the American public about reasons for initiating war in Iraq? Will this Administration continue to stonewall on hard issues that perpetuate the continued death and carnage of our deployed troops and Iraqi people?

Whatever it is or is not; one thing is clear to me. It is related to why this country is in Iraq in the first place and at the very least it ought to have every citizen questioning why did we sent combat troops into Iraq and why are they still there and what are the objectives and goals in Iraq? It ought to be abundantly clear by now that the Bush Administration misled America into war in Iraq. In my opinion, with deliberate deceptiveness the Bush Administration pushed an agenda of war in Iraq and it is showing a destabilization of America on a scale yet to be felt and seen. I hope not irreparably, yet fear the damage is one to be born for our coming up generation and even into next generations.

Military families bear the brunt of the political tango being conducted by this President and his administration. It is not an abstract issue for the families with deployed loved ones. It is not an abstract issue for the new young being aggressively and sometimes deceptively recruited into military rank and file. It is not an abstract issue for parents who have pre-teen and teen age youngsters who are being courted with military recruitment ads on television and internet in active campaigns to program their thinking towards offering up themselves in sacrifice at the altar of the Iraq war.

by Lietta Ruger
July, 2005

"Do you not sense within that we need citizens of our country to ask
the challenging questions and expect reasonable explanations as to why
it is necessary to send troops into combat?"
-Lietta Ruger-
  Courage is that small voice at the end of the day that says 'I will try again tomorrow'