Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter

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Bring Them Home Now!

One of the features of military families in this war that differs from previous wars is that there are more young married soldiers.

Here are some statistics:

-- in Iraq war, soldiers often married, with children

-- 55% of military personnel are married. 56% of those married are between 22 and 29.

-- One million military children are under 11.

-- 40% are 5 or younger.

-- 63% of spouses work, including 87% of junior-enlisted spouses.

Source: Department of Defense and National Military Family Association.



Dissent is loyalty Robert Taft, the conservative Ohio senator who is a hero to many of today's conservatives, gave a speech at the Executive Club of Chicago in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

There are a number of paragraphs that are just grand, but here's the best one, which is worth quoting in full:

As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government

... too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism.

If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because
the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy,
and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.

Drink in those words.

That's not William Fulbright two years into the Vietnam War.

It's not Ted Kennedy last week.

It's Mr. Republican, speaking -- when? Not mid-1943, or even March 1942

Taft delivered this speech ... on December 19, 1941!

That's right: Twelve days after the worst attack on American soil in the country's history,

perhaps with bodies still floating in the harbor,

the leader of the congressional opposition said to the president, 'we will question, we will probe, we will debate.'

By Michael Tomasky,
The AMERICAN Prospect online


Order and send postcards to Congress - Fund our Troops, Defund the

Bring Them Home Now postage stamps


For more information see Appeal for Redress website.


For more information go to dvd 'The Ground Truth' website.


Some Past Campaigns - Washington state chapter MFSO members participation

2007

(photo - Daniel Ellsberg, Lt. Ehren Watada)

(photo - Organizing Team; Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter introduces the Panelists)

(photo - on the Panel - Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter listen to two days of testimony)

(photo - close up of Panelists Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter)

(photo - rRetired Diplomat Col. Ann Wright gives her testimony)

(photo - Organizing Team - Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter with retired Col. Ann Wright - Testifier)

(photo - Stacy Bannerma, wife of returning Iraq veteran - WA Natl Guard, gives testimony)

(photo - close up Stacy Bannerman, author of 'When The War Came Home' gives her testimony. Formerly MFSO - WA chapter. For more on Stacy, her book, media archives, see her website at www.stacybannerman.com)

(photo - IVAW veterans Geoffrey Millard and former Lt. Harvey Tharp give their testimony)

See website; 'Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq';

Jan 20-21- 2007, Tacoma, WA.

A 2 day citizens' tribunal support action in defense of Lt. Ehren Watada court martial at Fort Lewis.

(Organizing Team from MFSO - WA chapter; Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan)

2006


(photo Lietta Ruger, MFSO- WA, in support Lt. Ehren Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Jenny Keesey, Judy Linehan, Lietta Ruger - from MFSO-WA in support of Lt. Ehren Watada June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan, Jenny Keesey - from MFSO - WA chapter, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Judy Linehan, MFSO - WA at support rally for Lt. Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

June 2006 ongoing through court martial Feb 2007

For more information, see 'Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada' website.


(photo - right is Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA; organizing team)

Representative Brian Baird, Washington state 3rd Congressional District, in blue shirt comes out to talk with MFSO members at 'Operation House Call')

'Operation House Call' June thru August 2006 in Washington DC.

MFSO members make individual calls on Senators and Representatives advocating to Bring Them Home Now.

For more information go to 'Operation House Call' website.

postcards sent to Congress - summer 2006, 'Operation House Call'


2005


(photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO-WA on central tour. Not pictured - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA on northern tour)

Bring Them Home Now tour - Sept 1 thru Sept 25 2005. From Crawford, Texas to Washington DC. see Bring Them Home Now tour website


(photo - left Lietta Ruger, MFSO -WA with center Cindy Sheehan and right Juan Torres at Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey, Aug 9, 2005


2004

photos from Newshour with Jim Lehrer; segment 'Homefront Battles' aired Oct 2004.

Online video, audio and article still available at Newshour website. photo - Sue Niederer, MFSO. Her son U.S. Army 2nd Lt.Seth Dvorin, 24 yrs old was killed in Iraq Feb 3, 2004.

photo - Nancy Lessin, MFSO Co-Founder

photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO - WA

photo - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO - WA


See at Seattle PI; List of casualties with Washington state ties

This is one of WA state casualties; Army Spc. Jonathan J. Santos, Whatcom County, Washington died Oct 15, 2004

Watch a slide show of family photos and listen to audio recordings of Army Cpl. Jonathan Santos' mother, brother and the woman who's documenting his life.

See the trailer for the documentary "The Corporal's Boots." (QuickTime 7 required).

A special thank you to mother, Doris Kent - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA for her generous sharing and contribution in speaking of her son's life and death in Iraq


Title 17 disclaimer In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
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mfso@mfso.org




Military Families Speak Out
is an organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military. We were formed in November of 2002 and have contacts with military families throughout the United States, and in other countries around the world.

As people with family members and loved ones in the military, we have both a special need and a unique role to play in speaking out against war in Iraq. It is our loved ones who are, or have been, or will be on the battlefront. It is our loved ones who are risking injury and death. It is our loved ones who are returning scarred from their experiences. It is our loved ones who will have to live with the injuries and deaths among innocent Iraqi civilians.

If you have family members or loved ones in the military and you are opposed to this war join us.

Send us an e-mail at
mfso@mfso.org
.
You can call us at 617-522-9323
or Send us mail at:
MFSO
P.O. Box 549
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

click here - MFSO Membership Form – to join Military Families Speak Out or

JOIN us by sending an e-mail to mfso@mfso.org.


MFSO - Become a Member

Membership in MFSO is open to anyone who has a family member or loved one serving, since August 2002, in any branch of our Armed Forces

* The Reserves

* The National Guard

* Returned from serving but still eligible for redeployment under stop loss.

There is no membership fee. Donations are welcome.

People who are not eligible for MFSO membership may join our Supporter Group. You are welcome to attend meetings that are open to the public, volunteer to help with event preparation and participate in our community actions and events. Supporters may purchase MFSO t-shirts and wear them with the "Proud Supporter of MFSO" button. Buttons may also be worn without the t-shirt.

Our Supporters provide emotional encouragement and physical help to our MFSO military families who are under extreme stress, especially if their loved one is in Iraq or Afghanistan

We welcome your involvement, please contact us.


click to see the list MFSO chapters other than Washington state forming around the country.


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Sunday, 8 April 2007

Topic: Take Care of Them

Army lawyer slams disability retirement system


By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer at Military Times
 Apr 5, 2007 21:53:58 EDT
The Army disability retirement system stacks the deck against injured soldiers by forcing them to prove they have post-traumatic stress disorder, demanding physical evidence for traumatic brain injuries, and restricting access to rules and regulations they need to make their cases, said an Army lawyer who helps soldiers appeal their claims.

“I think the problems are systemic,” said Steven Engle, head legal counsel for soldiers going through the disability physical evaluation system at Fort Lewis, Wash. “The rules are inequitable.”

In some cases, he said, they may even be illegal.

And the cases that are coming to define the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and musculoskeletal injuries — are the ones most affected by unfair or unclear rules coming from the service’s top-level Physical Disability Agency, Engle said.

The rules undeniably keep soldiers’ disability ratings low, but Engle said he could not claim that as an intentional outcome.

“I have no evidence to make that allegation,” Engle said. “Locally, I know they’re good and honorable people. I’ve never met anyone from the Physical Disability Agency.”

Engle, a civilian in charge of two Army reserve JAG officers who also assist soldiers through the process, said he is speaking out about the inequities because the Army’s legal command wants to fix the problems stemming from the fact that the Army “grossly oversimplifies” Defense Department guidance on rating disabilities.

Military Times asked the Army Physical Disability Agency March 27 for comment on Engle’s charges. At press time on April 5, a spokesman for the agency said officials had been too busy to respond. They did, however, provide some statistics requested by Military Times.

The most troublesome cases involve injuries that can’t be proven with medical evidence, Engle said. One major issue: soldiers with PTSD must prove they witnessed a traumatic event.

In its guidance for preparing psychiatric reports on soldiers going through the physical evaluation board process, the Physical Disability Agency cites various ways soldiers can prove they have had a PTSD-level “traumatic stressor”: statements from a commander or from fellow soldiers, awards with citations, statements from the soldier’s family showing behavior changes, police reports and sworn witness statements.

“Where a data source includes information based only on what the soldier has related,” the guidance states, “you should not use this data source as supportive collateral information.”

That seems to contravene the Army’s own regulations. AR 635-40 states that if there is no proof against a soldier’s claim, “reasonable doubt should be resolved in favor of the soldier.”

Engle said decisions on PTSD ratings should be based on the same information as all other mental disabilities — a psychiatrist’s formal diagnosis.

Putting the burden of proof for PTSD on the soldier, he said, “is grossly unfair.”

In one case, he said, a soldier watched a buddy die in Iraq and has since suffered nightmares, played the event over in his mind continuously, and remains hyper-alert to possible danger.

To help prove he had PTSD, the soldier was told to contact the family of his dead friend to get documentation that the friend had died. Then, Engle said, he was told to prove he witnessed the death.

“He just couldn’t … do it,” Engle said.

According to the guidance for psychiatrists, even if a soldier proves he witnessed a traumatic event and afterward develops PTSD symptoms, it may not be PTSD, but rather strong emotional reactions to other stressors.

“It is easy (but could be wrong) to attribute symptoms to PTSD when the symptoms begin after witnessing horrifying events,” the guidance states, and then lists other possible causes for the soldier’s symptoms: contentious relations with his commander, marriage problems, financial difficulties, a history of poor job adjustment, significant personality problems or disciplinary action.

It also suggests a soldier may not remember being diagnosed or may have been told by his parents that he had a mental disorder.

“There may be situations where a soldier does not report any history of having been seen by any health care professional ... for any mental disorder,” the guidance states. “However, in taking the soldier’s history, it may become clear to you that the soldier’s current mental disorder began or existed prior to the soldier’s being on active duty.”

If that’s the case, the soldier is labeled with a disorder that existed prior to service, found unfit, and if he has been in for fewer than eight years, is discharged with no severance check, no medical benefits, and no access to care from Veterans Affairs.

In one case documented by Military Times, a soldier with a brain tumor was considered to have a pre-existing condition even though there was no medical evidence to prove it. Because he had been in for less than eight years, he received no disability benefits from the Army.

Soldiers with traumatic brain injuries face a similar situation: If they can’t prove with medical evidence that damage was done, they may be rated as only 10 percent disabled, well below the threshold required to earn lifetime medical retirement.

“Those cases are terribly under-rated,” Engle said. “I think there’s great confusion on how to rate it. There’s an inherent skepticism built into the rules if you can’t see an injury or measure it with a tool.”

A soldier whose brain scan shows signs of trauma can be rated to the full extent of his cognitive disabilities. But one whose scan comes out clean — even if he suffers daily migraines, can’t remember what he had for lunch, and has cognitive abilities well below his pre-deployment levels — cannot be rated higher than 10 percent, Engle said. That leaves badly injured soldiers with no disability retirement and health care.

Jeannette Mayer recently took her husband, Staff Sgt. DeWayne Mayer, to the Elks Rehab Hospital in Boise, Idaho, where he was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury in February.

She said the injury should have been obvious much earlier to Army physicians, and that he should have been rated for it at his physical evaluation board.

Between May and October of 2005, DeWayne Mayer suffered at least five concussive head injuries, his wife said — three from being close to roadside bomb blasts, one when his Humvee flipped, and one when American troops blew up a downed U.S. helicopter that he was guarding before he had gotten clear.

“There are times when he is totally confused,” his wife said. “He doesn’t understand what you’re saying to him. If you try to get his attention, he gets violent.”

He suffers migraines, slurs his speech, shuffles his feet, and has been diagnosed with short-term memory loss.

As he recuperated at Fort Lewis, she said she asked doctors again and again if it could be a traumatic brain injury. She said he was never seen by a traumatic brain disorder specialist, and that his physical evaluation board gave him three disability ratings of 10 percent each for short-term memory loss, cognitive disorder and a neck injury.

“They told me the TBI program was not for people with short-term memory loss,” she said. “That was a different diagnosis.”

Engle said it may not have mattered. In another example of seemingly conflicting rules, the psychiatrists’ guidance for mental disorders says soldiers should be evaluated based on their ability to work in a civilian setting — even though the physical evaluation board’s stated task is to determine if soldiers are still fit for their military jobs.

The guidance tells doctors to determine if a soldier has an “acceptable level of attention and concentration” to allow them to be civil with co-workers, make simple work decisions, ask simple questions and request help.

“My colleagues call it the ‘Wal-Mart greeter test,’ ” Engle said. “If you could be a greeter at a discount store, you don’t qualify for more than 10 percent.”

Engle also said getting Army rules, regulations and guidance from the Physical Evaluation Board is often difficult, and that those documents are not stored in a central location.

“There are a bunch of Army documents for the process: some signed, some not,” Engle said. “Some are provided to counsel, and some are not. A person has a right to know what the rules are.”

A soldier will not know what evidence to produce about his case if he doesn’t know how the board is evaluating him, he said.

In March, Engle said he received an e-mail from the PEB with disability ratings guidance for musculoskeletal issues and neurological and convulsive disorders — dated 2005. Engle did not know the changes existed.

Engle said he thinks Army lawyers should be involved in the process earlier — at the medical evaluation board level. Medical boards determine which injuries or illnesses may make soldiers unfit for duty, and then physical evaluation boards determine if the soldiers should stay in the military or what disability ratings they should receive.

But if a medical evaluation board doesn’t document all of a soldier’s injuries, the physical evaluation board won’t rate them.

He also believes more soldiers need to challenge he system by appealing their initial, informal board decisions.

“Dozens and dozens” of clients have told him medical evaluation board members have said soldiers can be rated for only one disability, and that’s not true, he said. Soldiers should be rated for all injuries that affect their ability to work.

Data provided by the Army shows that about 80 percent of injured soldiers at Fort Lewis accept the decision of their initial, informal evaluation board, while the remaining 20 percent appeal. About half of those who decide to appeal eventually choose not to follow through after consulting with legal counsel, the Army said.

That means only 10 percent of injured soldiers entering the disability system at Fort Lewis ever go before a formal evaluation board for their conditions.

Engle said the recent media coverage of problems with the disability ratings process at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is already prompting changes, though whether they are good or bad for soldiers is unclear.

In late March, the Army issued a “tactical pause” for certain cases: PTSD, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and range-of-motion joint issues — conditions Engle says are “chronically underrated” as disabilities.

The Army then lifted the “tactical pause” for all cases except sleep apnea and narcolepsy — two conditions for which the Army’s rating system differs significantly from Defense Department guidance, he said.

Engle has other suggested changes, to include lowering the time-in-service threshold for pre-existing conditions from eight years to three.

He also said the Army should more closely follow Defense Department guidance and policy in rating injuries.

Critics say the Navy and Air Force do so — which may be one reason why their average disability ratings and payments are higher than the Army’s, even though the Army has many more serious injuries coming out of the war zones.

“It boggles my mind to see higher ratings in the Air Force with so many traumatic injuries coming through the Army,” Engle said.

(shared by Lietta - found at Military Times)


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 5:07 PM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 8 April 2007 5:42 PM PDT

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Criticism of the President is Patriotic

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else.

But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

Theodore Roosevelt, 1918, Lincoln and Free Speech