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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into our 3rd year of speaking out
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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
Wednesday, 4 April 2007

  Invitation from Eastern WA for MFSO - WA to give presentation at
        NW Progressive Conference scheduled at  WSU in Pullman, WA  April 19-21.

 


To:  Military Families Speak Out - Washington state chapter members

Members,

    We received this invite months ago, and I sent it out to the membership.  Please visit the website for NW Progressive Conference to learn more - link
http://www.wsuprogressive.com/index.html

   Jenny Keesey, our new NW Region Board Representative for MFSO agreed to present and has been in contact with the organizers.  Jenny has an invitation for the membership below:
           

Hi Members:

I will be participating in the WSU Progressive Conference at Pullman on Saturday, April 21st.  The timeslot is 3:30 to 5:00 pm.  WSU is providing dorm rooms at no charge for speakers.

I am wondering if anyone would like to share the timeslot with me and speak out?  We also have been invited to table all day that day.  I will be driving over on Friday afternoon and back on either Saturday evening or Sunday morning.

I will be talking about MFSO as an organization and would love to have someone talk more about their personal experience or a related topic of interest (i.e. VA benefits, etc.).

If you are interested, please let me know as soon as possible so I can secure an extra room.

Peace,

Jenny

     There are opportunities other than public speaking with this invitation, ie helping with the table and MFSO promotional materials, the opportunity to get together and spend time with other MFSO members on the drive to Pullman, WA,  overnight Friday and Saturday and the drive back Sunday.  Please respond directly to Jenny, email jjkeesey@yahoo.com or phone  360-490-2048. 

      It would be helpful to me if you would also let me know if you plan to attend.  I have long wanted for MFSO to have a presence in the Eastern part of our state and for MFSO - WA chapter to receive a direct invitation seems a genuine opportunity to widen our presence within the state.  We do have some members across the mountains and recently I heard from one of our Marine Mom members with grave concerns that her son will be called up for another deployment in Iraq.  She wouldn't mind the 'support' from other military families. 

  respect,

Lietta
Lietta Ruger,  chapter coordinator

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 6:15 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007 6:17 PM PDT
Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Topic: Take Care of Them

Army Launches Wounded Warrior, Family Hotline

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2007 – Army officials this morning launched a new hotline to help wounded warriors and their family members to get information or assistance with medical or other issues

The “Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline,” 1-800-984-8523, also will help Army leaders improve services to wounded soldiers and their families, officials said. We have designed this call center to be able to collectively hear what the soldiers say about their health care issues, so as issues are raised, we can identify systemic faults or problematic areas and senior leaders can better allocate resources," said Maj. Gen. Sean J. Byrne, commander of U.S. Army Human Resources Command.

"It's all about serving our wounded and injured soldiers and their families,” he added. “If we can find a way to improve our system, we will. It's that simple."

In a statement, Army officials acknowledged that many soldiers wounded in the global war on terror and their families are “enduring hardships in navigating through our medical care system.”

“The Army is committed to providing outstanding medical care for the men and women who have volunteered to serve this great nation,” officials said in the statement.

Care of wounded soldiers has been in the spotlight since a February series of articles in the Washington Post revealed shortcomings in outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, here. Since then, the hospital’s commander was relieved, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey resigned, and the service’s surgeon general submitted his retirement request over the issue.

“Recent events made it clear the Army needs to revise how it meets the needs of our wounded and injured Soldiers and their families,” Army officials said in yesterday’s statement. “In certain cases, the soldiers' chain of command could have done a better job in helping to resolve medically related issues.”

Officials stressed that the hotline is not intended to circumvent the chain of command, but is “another step in the direction of improvement.”

“Wounded and injured soldiers and their families expect and deserve the very best care and leadership from America's Army,” officials said. “The Army's intent is to ensure wounded and injured soldiers and their families that they receive the best medical care possible. The Army chain of command will ensure every soldier is assisted in navigating the military health care system.

The Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline can be reached from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-800-984-8523. As additional personnel are trained to receive calls and refer them to the proper organization or agency for resolution, the hotline hours of operation will expand to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, officials said.

 

(shared by Lietta Ruger - found at Stryker Brigade News)


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 1:05 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 3 April 2007 1:25 PM PDT
Monday, 2 April 2007
from Fort Lewis Ranger - Announcement of next rotation - Dept of Army - DOD
Topic: News - troop rotations

from Fort Lewis Ranger newspaper's blog - Blog-Ah

The Army announced today the extension of one Army Brigade in Iraq, but made no mention of extending the 3rd Brigade, 2nd ID from Fort Lewis scheduled to return to Fort Lewis this summer. Standby. Below is the Army release from this morning.

(Army News Release) - The Department of the Army confirmed today the Department of Defense's announcement for the next rotation of one corps headquarters, two division headquarters and two brigade combat teams in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Additionally, the Department of Defense extended one unit in Iraq and added approximately 2,000 combat support Soldiers to maintain the momentum of operations.

The XVIII Airborne Corps Headquarters, from Fort Bragg, N.C., will replace Headquarters, III Corps, of Fort Hood, Texas, as the Multi-National Corps - Iraq Headquarters in November 2007. The Multi-National Corps Headquarters element oversees day-to-day operations in Iraq, and this deployment of a corps headquarters and some of its subordinate elements is part of a routinely scheduled rotation of forces. No stranger to this mission, the XVIII Airborne Corps Headquarters last saw duty as the Multi-National Corps Headquarters from February 2005 - February 2006.

The 1st Armored Division Headquarters from Wiesbaden, Germany and the 4th Infantry Division Headquarters from Fort Hood, Texas, will deploy to Iraq in August 2007, and serve as multi-national force headquarters, assuming command and control of units and areas of operation as directed. Germany's "Old Ironsides" Division Headquarters last served in Iraq from April 2003 to August 2004 and Fort Hood's "Ivy Division" recently returned from an OIF deployment that started in December 2005 and ended this past December 2006.

The two brigade combat teams confirmed as part of the regular rotation to Iraq are the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, N.Y. and the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C. (The Department of Defense previously announced this 82nd Airborne brigade's deployment Nov. 17, 2006.) Both Brigade Combat Teams are seasoned veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. The "Warriors" of 1st BCT, 10th Mountain Division completed their latest OIF rotation in August 2006, and had served in Afghanistan from June 2003 to May 2004. The "Devils in Baggy Pants" from Fort Bragg served in Iraq from September 2003 to April 2004, and twice in Afghanistan from December 2002 to May 2003 and June 2005 to March 2006.

The Headquarters, 25th Infantry Division from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, currently serving as Headquarters, Multi-National Division North, is extended 46 days past an anticipated 12-month rotation end date. These "Tropic Lightning" Headquarters Soldiers will now redeploy in September 2007.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C., which was the first unit called forward from Kuwait as part of the Operation Iraqi Freedom plus-up operations, deployed from Fort Bragg in early January 2007. Though tentatively scheduled to redeploy in September 2007, they will now complete a full 12-month rotation and return in early January 2008.

The Army is also supplying an additional headquarters unit for the plus-up, the Headquarters, 214th Fires Brigade, from Fort Sill, Okla., placing additional combat support capability in theater. This headquarters will plan, coordinate and synchronize lethal and non-lethal effects for operational commanders. The 214th HQ is trained and ready, and will deploy at the end of this month.

Combat support and security operations remain keys to success on the ground, and the Army is answering theater's call to provide more of these capabilities. For these latest requirements, the Army National Guard will provide headquarters and line batteries from the 181st Field Artillery Battalion, 145th Field Artillery Battalion and the 131st Field Artillery Battalion, all Army National Guard units. The incredible Citizen-Soldiers who comprise these units hail from the states of Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Kansas, and Georgia. They will deploy this September.

The Army will only provide the best led, best trained and best equipped forces possible to the combatant commander for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though increasingly a challenge, the Army also remains committed to carving out the critical 12 months of dwell time for units, Soldiers, and families between combat rotations. This dwell time is required to properly organize, re-train, and re-equip forces, as well as allow Soldiers and their families well-deserved rest. Where the 12-month dwell is broken, and where unanticipated extensions are ordered, the Army will focus all available resources on those units, posts, Soldiers and family members to ease the challenges these conditions bring.

Soldiers and family members continue to make great sacrifices for the good of our country and in response to theater requirements. America's Soldiers are performing magnificently around the world during this time of war, and they appreciate and acknowledge the continued support of the American People.

(I left the post intact to provide our members with update of troop rotations.  Please remember this was posted to the Fort Lewis Ranger newsapaper's blog, and likely the tone reflects a bit about how news is reported to the Fort Lewis military community.    ... Lietta Ruger) 


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 11:54 AM PDT
Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007 8:55 PM PDT
Wednesday, 28 March 2007
Washington DC under 'occupation' - Now that is Some street theatre - Thanks IVAW
Mood:  surprised

by Lietta Ruger

In a staged all day guerrilla street theatre production, the Iraq Veterans Against the War, gave an example of what it might be like if Washington DC was 'occupied' by military troops. IVAW - whose members are returning Iraq veterans who have served in combat tours in Iraq - commemorated the 4th anniversary of Iraq war with this staged production in Washington DC, March 19, 2007.

 

(this is posted to my blog, Dying to Preserve the Lies. Repeating it here because I'm so fascinated with what IVAW did)

When I saw some of the photos, I was both startled and impressed with the way IVAW chose to share their message. I think you will also be startled, and I hope impressed, by the photos depicting the actions of IVAW. I do wish I had been in DC to see it as I know it would have kept my interest the entire day. I hope IVAW will stage this kind of theatre again, maybe in various local communities. I talked to one of my colleagues in Texas and she thought she might invited them to stage the theatre in her city in Texas.

See additional photos including the mock taking of detainees at  IVAW website.


And see More photos - excellent photography with chilling effects.

Also read the 'Far From Iraq; A Demonstration of a War Zone', the Washington Post article and account of the IVAW actions that day in DC. Interesting way WAPO put it together - and gives more detail to some of the photos, and some of the citizen public reactions to what was happening! There is also a short online video posted at WAPO website, along with the article.


Securing the Area


















Stopping Bus at Checkpoint







Lance Corporal Cloy Richards, looking for Al-Anbar ghosts




Sniper-Instigator G-Repp

photos courtesy of my friend, pictured below  
Bill Perry, Delaware Valley Veterans For America Disabled American Veteran, VVAW, VFP, VFW, VVA


Vietnam veteran, Bill Perry with Iraq veteran, Geoffrey Millard (member of IVAW).

Bill was there and has these comments (along with the photos) on the experience:

Truth is the FIRST CASUALTY of WAR

    It was a remarkable privilege to witness IVAW running a mission that included interrogations of civilians, taking hostages, and displaying the hostility that an Occupation Force must possess.

    IVAW certainly learned from us VVAW Vets of R.A.W. ( Rapid American Withdrawal ) and our Labor Day weekend, 1970 March, from Mooristown, NJ, to Valley Forge, PA.

    Our VVAW March had incredibly long stretches thru the countryside, where nobody but pheasants and farm animals saw us, over 3 days.

    IVAW's run, from Union Station, Congress, the Nat'l Mall, Wash Monument, etc., only took 8 hours, and garnered worldwide attention.

    The varied reactions of passersby ran the gamut:  Fear, consternation, shock, appreciation, and many expressed great PRIDE in IVAW's Guerilla Theater.

    My favorite moment was when I informed 3 or 400 high school kids, { in the RED Tee-shirts } what the IVAW mission was, and they broke out in wild applause & appreciation.

 

(posted by Lietta Ruger - shout out of thanks to Bill Perry for making the photos available)


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 2:15 PM PDT
Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Now Playing: New WA MFSO Chapter Member David Kannas
Topic: Members Speak Out

[Ed note: Received this via email. David recently joined up with MFSO and our Chapter. As I understand it he is out of Seattle. - Arthur]  


I have looked for another way of contacting you with this poem without success. It would be a great honor to have it included in your web page. My son, Dylan, is in the Air Force Security Forces and has been to Iraq twice and will return in June. On the last tour he was assigned to an Army unit that convoyed supplies from Balad to FOBs. It seems that the Army is wearing out. Thanks.

Regards,
Dave Kannas

 

                         IN SILENCE, NO BREATHING
                              

                             (with thanks to Jim Lehrer)
There was a time, years ago, another age
when this began, this silence.
And now, in silence 10, 12, 14 more.

Always more, never less.
But there were days, long ago,
in another age, when more was less.
When silence wasn't so silent.
Now, in silence, 15, 15, 17 more.

Breathing isn't important anymore.
When will that be accepted fact?
The lack of breathing, this silence, makes hearing easier.
And again, in silence, some more.

You'd think we'd know by now.
About death, that it's silent.
No breathing in death.
That the young are the most silent, loud in life, silent in death.
But here are more, a squad.

Smiles, no smiles, starched and rumpled, bright and not.
Some loved, some loved more.
All silent, not breathing.
Always in frames on tables, always young, mostly.
Always more, and in silence.

War is like this, it makes silence.
Makes life stop, frames life.
Frames faces of silent souls.
This silence maker, war.

But it's worse than that, this war, this maker of silence.
It's the end, the end to honesty in death.
We call it something else.
Heroic sacrifice, for example.

Continued in the name of more death, this war.
So previous death isn't for naught, they say.
So freedom can reign, they say.
So there can be more silence.

So we can continue in silence.
How many more, how much silence before the end?
Before the end of youth and hope?
And here, in silence.


David Kannas, November, 2006

 



Posted by SwanDeer Project at 8:13 PM PDT
Sunday, 25 March 2007
Action is worth 1000 words but talk - like slogan - is cheap
Now Playing: Christian Science Monitor and an opinion by Arthur Ruger
Topic: Take Care of Them
Americans support the troops with food, soap, DVDs

 

[Excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor. The read the entire article, click here

Four years into the war in Iraq, private support for US soldiers looks as strong as ever.

 

By Tom A. Peter | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor

Page 1 of 4

What do US soldiers need in Iraq? Probably not hand-knitted caps and booties.

"We're running into a lot of knitted items" in care packages, says Marine 1st Lieutenant Barry Edwards, public affairs officer for Regimental Combat Team Six in Fallujah.

"Great job on the knitting, but we're starting to break 85 degrees [F.] ... and in about another month it's going to be over 100."

Four years into America's war in Iraq, public approval of the effort has fallen sharply, but private support for the troops looks as strong as ever. Since no official statistics exist, the evidence is necessarily anecdotal. Soldiers in war zones receive a steady influx of care packages and letters. Domestically, organizations that offer aid to soldiers and their families have enjoyed consistent support, and some have even grown.

After only three months in Iraq, Lieutenant Edwards has received over 200 care packages addressed to him. They came from friends, family, and complete strangers, he said in a phone interview, adding that he distributes most of them throughout the regiment.

"We definitely receive more now than in previous deployments. America's support for her troops has not waned," he says.

Other troops report similar experiences.

"I have received so much stuff, I would be hard-pressed to say 'thanks' enough," writes Commander Paul Eich, a naval aviator working as an intelligence officer in Baghdad, in an e-mail.

Commander Eich, speaking as a citizen, not a representative of the US military or government, says he once received two boxes with enough hand sanitizer to last him over six months.

Army Pvt. Ryan Zarzecki, from the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment in southern Baghdad, said he's often surprised to get mail from a stranger.

"Anything you get in the mail that's not a bill is a nice thing," he says with a smile.


  The read the entire article, click here
The Monitor article is excellent.  
Long distance attending to detail by citizens must be augmented by those we elected and expect to attend to the important details once our loved one's arrive home.  
 
Bring the troops home now!
Take Care of Them When They Get Here! 
 
Lukovich's cartoon below talks about those who say but don't do.

 

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 9:52 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 25 March 2007 10:23 AM PDT
Monday, 19 March 2007

Now Playing: Memorial Continues: Army Spc. Jonathan J. Santos and family
Topic: Remembrances
Army Spc. Jonathan J. Santos
 
Died:
October 15, 2004
 
 
22, of Whatcom, Wash.; assigned to the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion, 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.; killed Oct. 15 when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Karabilah, Iraq.
 
 
 
             
 
[Editor's Note: Lietta and Doris Kent, Jonathan's Mother, exchanged emails about yesterday's article in the Seattle Times and we received permission from Doris to publish. In researching the story I also found an earlier article about Jonathan and this family that was absolutely eloquent. Copyright laws don't allow publishing of the full articles so I am publishing excerpts from each and providing links to each article in its entirety. - Arthur]

 
Jared Santos: "I remember when his body came to town"
 

Sunday, March 18, 2007 -
By Marsha King
Seattle Times staff reporter

Click here to read the entire article



  PREV     of     NEXT 


Jared Santos, 17, Bellingham, Sehome High School student, who stands with his brother Justin, 15, right, at the cemetery where their brother, who was killed in Iraq, is buried.
Photo:John Lok/The Seattle Times


Brothers Jared and Justin Santos woke up to their mother's screams.

"I thought she fell down the stairs," Jared recalled. Even after seeing the two somber soldiers in the living room, "I was thinking he might be missing. I didn't think he might be killed."

But their older brother, Cpl. Jonathan Santos, 22 and in Iraq for just five weeks, had been killed by a suicide bomber Oct. 15, 2004.

... People from all over Bellingham turned out to pay respects — "I didn't know that many people cared that much," Justin said.

Close friends at school stayed near. "I teared up really bad," Jared said. "A lot of the guys walked over and patted me on the shoulder."

For a long time, Jared couldn't talk about his feelings, and Justin was sad, angry and depressed. Their mother always has opposed the war; now both boys understand why and share her feelings.

Now their father — a career military man and divorced from their mother — also has been sent to Iraq. He's supposedly out of harm's way, but the brothers worry and e-mail him every day. They cope by supporting their mom, staying busy and playing sports.

Their deceased brother's memorabilia decorates their rooms; Jared wears the clothes Jonathan left behind and sleeps under his comforter. Since the death, Jared is working harder and has grown less shy. He's participating in a film project about his brother and wants "to name my first boy Jonathan."

Justin is getting straight A's and attends war protests with his mother. He envisions a job in politics — "helping save the lives of soldiers."



 No. 1,096: 'You can't think about death.'
Boots inspire two mothers to make a soldier's death more than just a number

Friday, May 19, 2006
By ATHIMA CHANSANCHAI
P-I REPORTER

Click here to read the entire article. 

The woman threads a bracelet and a rosary through the laces of the boots -- standard-issue military. She ties and unties the laces with trembling fingers, trying to get the tops of the boots to stand at attention.

The tighter she ties, the straighter they stand.
 

 


She stares at them a long time, her shoulders hunched over as her slight body heaves up and down in rhythm to the sobs. One of her sons stands behind her and puts a hand on her shoulder.

The boots are unremarkable: black, midcalf, Army surplus, used -- somebody else's boots.

They look just like the other 1,546 pairs of boots at the Seattle Center's Fisher Pavilion. They're lined up and spaced in neat rows, like soldiers at parade rest. Some are adorned with flags and photographs, some with flowers.

But it's the pair with the rosary and the silver bracelet that will bring together two women who each found a new life amid so much death.

One woman, Patricia, is a mother, a family doctor, a documentary filmmaker and a Quaker. In two decades of practice, she has seen how passionately children are protected and nurtured into adulthood. She cannot understand why they are sent off to war to be killed.

The other, Doris, is a military wife and mother whose eldest son enlisted in the U.S. Army three months before Sept. 11, 2001, the day mother and son realized the world had become a dangerous place.

"Son, you be careful," the woman told him.

I've got to get this down  

Kent with son's boots
 
MERYL SCHENKER/P-I
 Doris Kent of Bellingham with her son’s boots, with a picture and a bracelet threaded through the laces. Army Cpl. Jonathan Santos had just seven months to serve when he was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in October 2004.



Medicine is Patricia Boiko's calling. Stories are in her blood -- true stories.

Six years ago, she began taking classes at the University of Washington to become certified in documentary filmmaking. It was a natural fit.

Patricia went to the exhibit at the Seattle Center with her camera. At the time -- a little more than two years after the war in Iraq started -- 1,546 U.S. soldiers had been killed.

Patricia found the boots that had been so carefully laced up with a silver rosary and metal bracelet.

Then she went on the Internet and found the name of the Washington state soldier memorialized by the Army-issue boots, Googling her way to his mother, Doris Kent.

A stubborn first-born

Doris Kent grew up on Guam, the daughter of a Navy man and sister of a Vietnam vet. She married Leslie Santos, an Army man, and raised three

Santos with Kent
   
 Doris Kent and Jonathan Santos in 2001. Santos graduated from Sehome High School, where he played football and wrestled.

boys. She divorced the boys' father in 1995 and married Chris Kent in 1996.

Kent is also a retired Navy man. The couple met in Guam and moved to Bellingham in December 1996. They found a house in a quiet cul-de-sac with a clear view of the Canadian Rockies.

Doris had big dreams for the boys. As the only one of 10 children who went to college, she made it clear to her sons that they would go to college. But her first-born was stubborn.

He signed up for delayed entry into the Army.

"His junior year, a recruiter got hold of him, and he said, 'Mom, I'm going to earn my own college money.' I said, 'No. I'm going to pay for it.' We argued about it for three months."

He won. "He wasn't asking my permission to get into the military," said Doris. "He wanted my support."

Doris Kent, 45, has a streak of Martha Stewart. She keeps an immaculate house, loves to decorate and is an avid scrap-booker. Born into the military, she is a lifelong ID card holder, thanks to the active duty service members in her family.

"They're the ones that took the oath," Doris said. "We're the ones that took the life."

Until recently, she worked as a health educator in Prevention and Wellness Services at Western Washington University.

And until Oct. 15, 2004, her life was intact.

'Heard the heart breaking'

On Oct. 16, 2004, Jared Santos woke to the screams and cries of his mother, Doris Kent. His first thought: Mom has fallen down the stairs.

The 14-year-old ran down the hall to see what had happened.

His stepfather, Chris Kent, stopped him and ushered him back to his room. While he waited, Jared thought about his big brother: OK, he might be captured by insurgents or wounded. He's my brother. He isn't dead.

His stepdad came back for him a few minutes later.

Jared saw his mom crying in the living room. Two soldiers sat on the couch.

"I want you to tell them what you told me! I want them to hear it too!" Doris said, as Jared stood close by.

He'd never heard his mother scream like that.

"That was from the core of my heart, and what he heard was my heart being ripped out of my body. He heard the heart breaking," Doris said.

One of the strangers in uniform spoke up. "Corporal Jonathan Santos was killed in action yesterday while serving in Iraq."

Jared sat there with his head down. He let the tears stream down his face. I won't see you for the longest time, he thought, not until I am dead.

Doris had followed the daily death toll numbers from Iraq. Her son was now No. 1,096. "I thought, 'Oh no! They won't remember him. They'll just remember the numbers.' "

'Mom, I don't get it'

Before he was killed in Karabilah, Iraq, Jonathan Santos was a son, a brother, a friend, an athlete and a soldier.

Santos on duty
   
 Santos, shown here on duty overseas, was stationed in Haiti before heading to Iraq.

At Sehome High School in Bellingham, he played football and wrestled. He owned every book Stephen King ever wrote, but he also loved Calvin & Hobbes. He loved fireworks and fast cars. His dark blue 2002 Toyota Celica GT still sits in the Kents' driveway.

Born at Fort Knox, Ky., on Sept. 23, 1982, he was old enough to know firsthand the nomadic life of a military family.

Jonathan never thought of the military as a place where he could get killed. Sure, one of his uncles had died from exposure to Agent Orange, but his dad, Leslie Santos, had enlisted and served during peacetime.

Jonathan's plan: serve four years and earn enough money to go to college in Southern California, where he'd join his best friend from high school. Then Sept. 11 happened.

Jonathan had scored high on the Army's language aptitude test and wanted to learn Chinese. Instead, the Army chose Arabic for him. He became a linguist with the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion.

He was stationed first in Haiti, in March 2004. That's where he received his orders to go to Iraq. "He told me, 'Mom, I don't get it. They're taking us and making us leave a country that desperately needs us and wants us and sending us to a country that desperately wants to kill us.' After I hung up with him, all I could do was cry," Doris said.

When her son went to Iraq, he had only seven months left to serve. He was a good soldier, but he looked forward to getting out. Two weeks before his death, he wrote in his daily journal: "Today is my 22nd birthday. Great. I guess I'll throw a kick-ass kegger. I'll have a keg of Killians and one of Yuengling."What a bangin party, right? Well it aint gonna happen because I'm in Iraq. But I make this vow here and now. This is the last ... THE LAST BIRTHDAY THE ARMY WILL STEAL FROM ME!"

'Grim Reaper'

Doris Kent didn't find her son's journal until his tough box -- a soldier's chest of his most valuable items that returns to families after their death -- came back. When he was home on leave, he never mentioned his fears or doubts. She found out about them in the diary.

"He didn't talk down about anything," she said. "He talked about his future. It's all you can do. You can't think about death. You just can't."

Doris also found something else in the tough box -- videocassettes. Her son bought a video camera just before he left for Iraq and had taped everything.

Doris sat down and watched them by herself, pausing when she cried too hard. There's Jon talking and laughing with his friends and family. There's his cousin's wedding he attended while he was home. There are his brothers at Six Flags. Those are his Army buddies. Oh, and that's his dog Roxy in North Carolina. He loved that dog.

One of the last videos Jonathan made shows him making what he called his "Grim Reaper" -- a lucky charm of a skeletal scythe-bearer made from electrical tape. He kept it in his Humvee.

It was hanging from the roof as he and his two-man team made their way back from a mission on the Syrian border. A Marine journalist and an Iraqi translator accompanied them. All five men were in the third vehicle in a convoy of three. A car that had pulled off to the side of the road revved up and rammed into them.

The Humvee exploded. Jonathan was thrown from the vehicle. Only one person survived. Jonathan died in a Blackhawk helicopter en route to the hospital.

Two lives

Weeks after shooting the "Eyes Wide Open" exhibit at The Seattle Center, Patricia e-mailed Doris for permission to use the footage of the Army-issue boots laced up with a rosary and bracelet.

Within the hour, Doris called her. "Of course," Doris told her. "But I'd really like to tell you my story, and Jonathan's story."

The two met in Bellingham, about seven months after the explosion that took Jonathan's life.

"At the time I was still so raw, still enmeshed in unbelievable grief," Doris said. "She was so gentle and kind with me, so generous. She reached out to me without knowing me."

Their two worlds were about to change. A mother found her voice. And a physician found another way of healing -- as a filmmaker.

The documentary Patricia made is only eight minutes -- the first of a three-part work in progress. Part one is called "The Corporal's Boots," which will screen Sunday at the Northwest Film Forum.

It begins with the fresh recruit saying "Hi" to his mom in his green camos. Then it fades to soldiers marching. In the next scene, the words of the Quaker who stood up at the April meeting are overlaid on images of the exhibit -- first one boot, then another and another until they fill the screen. There are more boots than people walking around them.
 
Patricia and filmmaker Laurel Spellman Smith are now editing the second in the series, "The Corporal's Diary," which focuses on Jonathan's videos and diary excerpts, read by his brother Jared.

Jared Santos
   
 Jared Santos, younger brother of Cpl. Jonathan Santos, holds his brother’s diary. Jared reads from it in the second part of the series, "The Corporal’s Diary." Photo Meryl Schenker/P-I

The final segment will be "The Corporal's Memory," which follows Doris as she meets the mother of the one surviving member of Jonathan's team.

For Patricia, the filming has been difficult, psychologically and emotionally. She has a son who is about the same age Jonathan was when he died.

"I was able to keep it together to interview Doris. But editing Doris and watching Jonathan's tapes, I couldn't do it at first for more than an hour or two," Patricia said. "Also, I would become very angry. No one seemed to care about the war. They forget there's a war going on."

Some mothers of fallen soldiers who have seen the film view it as anti-war. Some see it as a memorial to the cost of war. She supports any way a mother needs to grieve and deal with her son or daughter's death in this war.

"Nobody could tell us how to hurt, how to miss them," she said. "You do whatever you have to do to get through this."

What Doris did was find a mission in her mourning.

Once the military mom hesitated to speak out against the war. She no longer holds her tongue -- even though at times she wonders if she's doing the right thing.

"I know the sacrifices that we as military families make in supporting a family member who is active duty. It's a political decision to send them to war. But it's a patriotic decision to serve in the military.

"Unfortunately, serving in the military right now is serving a political agenda, and my son was killed for that."

Jonathan Santos' gravesite at Bayview Cemetery is about five minutes from his family home.

There are two headstones for Jonathan in the veteran's portion of the cemetery.

One, from the Army, is flush with the ground. It shows he earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. The other is upright and made of marble. It shows a sketch of a soldier at attention.

Doris visits at least three days a week, wiping the markers free of dust and grass, firming up the flags that line the small plot of grass behind the stones and decorating the site on holidays.

Her mantel at home also memorializes Jonathan. On it is an assembly of photos that show how the boy became the young man, the young man the soldier in the black boots.

She found them in his tough box. They're small boots: size 7 1/2. Jonathan was compact: 5-foot-7, about 160 pounds, mostly muscle.

Years of pulling the laces tight have made the tongues soft as butter. The heels are worn, the rounded toes scuffed.

On May 8, Doris carefully packed the boots in a carry-on suitcase, along with Jonathan's dog tags.

She headed to Washington, D.C., for the Mother’s Day March, and the last day of the “Eyes Wide Open” exhibit in the capital’s National Mall.

On May 13, the day of the march, she rode the escalator up into the Mall, carrying the boots in a shopping bag.

There were now 2,439 pairs of boots. A thousand more soldiers gone since she first saw the exhibit in Seattle.

Doris took out Jonathan's dog tags and put them around her neck, then walked to the rows of boots honoring Washington state's soldiers. She found the used black boots with her son's name on them.

She bent down, unlaced the boots, and painstakingly transferred her son's rosary and bracelet to the boots he'd first worn in basic training.

Doris tied the boots so tight they stood straight up. It looked as if her son was standing in them.

"Now I know Jonathan will be traveling with this exhibit," she said.

"First it was a pair of boots with his name on it, now it's Jonathan's boots -- not somebody else's boots, but his boots."

DIARY EXCERPTS

Excerpts from the daily diary entries of Army Cpl. Jonathan Santos in Iraq:

Sept. 13, 2004

It was smooth sailing to Al Qaim after that. We downloaded our gear once here. Our new pad is awesome. It's air conditioned and we all have beds. Before we came here, people were saying we have the worst living conditions. But I'd say this place is pretty sweet.

Sept. 18, 2004


Today there was a big Iraqi Police meeting at the IP training grounds. SPC (P) and I stayed outside and guarded the perimeter. The sun was blazin hot. Especially up in the turret in my Kevlar body armor, long sleeve and my dust mask insulating around my neck.

I also got these new shoulder guards that attach to the body armor. They're good for cutting off the circulation to my arms.

Sept. 28, 2004


I got mail from my youngest bro, Justin and my Mom. ... I watched some video footage I took of my friends (T) and Justin. They were talking about how they want me to return safely from Iraq. And I promised them I would. I never lie.

But is sure is dangerous here what with the rockets, mortars, IEDs and sniper attacks. I wanted to be an ATL and now that I am one, I'm up in the turret exposed to all of the hazards Iraqi insurgents put out there. Be careful what you wish for. You just may get it. I made the Angel of Death.

Sept. 29, 2004


A couple of days ago a marine killed himself and today I talked to one of the guys that cleaned up part of the mess. The guy who committed suicide shot himself in the head, and his buddies had to clean it up. That's (expletive) up.

Oct. 11, 2004


It's Columbus Day. Wonderful. So we honored this holiday by taking the day off. Good for us. I think we're going to honor it again tomorrow with another day off. Why? Because there isn't (expletive) for us to do here in Iraq.

But I'm alright with that. Sometimes I feel that way because I'm lazy. Other times I just want to live to see another day. I don't want to become just some picture on the wall to my younger brothers. I want to live ... like Quato lives.

Oct. 14, 2004

I once again enjoyed the splendors of Driver 3. I am an ace at that game. Missions have been on hold lately because Crypto (aka communications) was compromised. Some unit lost a radio when they hit a mine. The new fill comes out tomorrow, so we'll be going out.

Santos was killed the next day.

... Santos, who had been in Iraq for only five weeks before he was killed, left behind daily written entries and a video diary from Iraq. Boiko and filmmaker Laurel Spellman Smith are turning his words and footage into "The Corporal's Diary," the second piece of "The Corporal" trilogy. The final film will be called "The Corporal's Memory."
FIND OUT MORE

Boiko's Web site: www.winningpicturesllc.com (where you can find links to "The Corporal's Boots" information and to Jonathan's journal)

"Eyes Wide Open" exhibit: www.afsc.org/eyes/


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 8:34 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007 9:13 PM PDT
Saturday, 17 March 2007

Topic: Remembrances

4th Anniversary Weekend

 MFSO Washington State Chapter Remembers 


 From Lietta:

A poem by my granddaughter, written when she was 11 yrs old, Aug 2003

on her parent's deployment to Iraq.  I have permission to publish her poem. 
 
 

Went to War 
       written by granddaughter Miranda, age 11, 
          August 2003 

A long time has passed 
feels like forever 
It was like you were there 
then vanished. 
 
I never really wanted you to go 
but life’s unfair 
and that I know 
 
Sometimes I wonder 
would these 7 months be the same if you were here? 
Mom’s always crying 
One by one with a tear. 
 
I know you’ll come back someday 
some time 
I wish it was now 
right now, 
then I’ll be fine 
 
We miss you a lot

 


Arlington National Cemetery


 

Artists' Renditions



VietNam Vet Memorial


VietNam Nurses Memorial 

Tricia A wrote:

Lietta-I don't know if this would even be appropriate, but I put together pictures from Dustin Sides (the first of 5 young Washington Marine's funerals that I attended in 2004) and a poem that I wrote.

If you wanted to use this, it would be fine.

You can find it here: 

Lance Cpl Dustin Sides

http://www.geocities.com/newestmmo/dustintribute.html?1087171771625




From Dustin Side's Services 


5 Washington Fallen Marines Remembered


PFC Cody S. Calavan


Staff Sgt. Marvin Best


Cpl Steven A. Rintanmaki


Lance Cpl Nathan Wood


Lance Cpl Kane M. Funke


I also have pictures from Nathan Wood's funeral, and pictures from the grave of Steven Rintamaki and Dennis Mitchell,2 other young Marines we lost. 

Let me know if you would like these-these young men should not be forgotten. The Woods never did support this war, and their son Nathan wrote home that he didnt even know why they were there, shortly before he died in Nov '04.

Hugs
Tricia
Proud WA mom of USMC Veteran Matthew and Airman Daniel


I wrote this poem sometime during the fall after the attacks on the towers.
- Arthur Ruger, MFSO Washington State Chapter
SEPTEMBER ELEVENTH
This dream of our Founders all around us and real
was fashioned and forged in rebellion's hot zeal.
With a fire born of need stoked by courage to spare
the Fathers laid groundwork where none else would dare.

In confronting a king, overcoming their fear
they birthed us a nation quite brave, free and clear.
With today's round of terror and national doubt
about safety with danger all laid round about,

were silence to reign with a whisper to hear
the sound would ring loudly in each person's ear.
A sound of the dream so successfully bought
would ring louder than worry by terror so fraught.

When ashes remain after towers are gone
with the bitterest dust and grey smoke in each dawn
tis the whisper of dreams held by patriots past
that binds us with hope and a will to outlast

all the hate and the weapons intended to scare
our strong blood and the spirit that we who might dare
to stand strong and united, our souls side by side
shedding tears, giving honor to those who have died.

In our moments of silence with heads bowed in prayer
tis the whisper of freedom that rings in the air.
We're a spiritual nation with all sorts of clothes
and a myriad of faiths by which God only knows

that we worship together, apart or alone
as a nation, a people, whose actions have sewn
up a fabric of caring and mourning our lost
but still holding together whatever the cost.

To extremists who think that their God harbors hate
we will answer with courage before it's too late
that a God who is good won't discern twixt His souls
and the paths which are taken by each in their roles

as believers and doubters in spiritual things
hearing only the goodness that each human sings.
Any god who is pleased at destruction of life
is a god full of falsehood; a father of strife

and a tyrant whose face shows an evil intent
while a bevy of fools think of how they've been sent
to the world to strike terror and fear of the sword
in the name of a falsehood who's nobody's lord.

There are names for the One who is holy and just
and the name matters little but moreso we must
offer worship by loving each other the same
and withhold adoration to a god full of shame
who exists not in Heaven but only in smoke
whose fanatics too foolish to know he's a joke
cause harm and destruction while seeking applause
from a world that's repelled by the stench of their cause.

The god of their making, so cruel and unkempt
deserves only disgust and our lasting contempt.
The dream of our Founders lives on in our hearts
and whispers its power throughout all the parts

of this land, of this continent -- even more, of this earth
that the will of our Fathers is given rebirth.
In our towns and our cities we're out to make claim
on our values, our people and sweet Liberty's Flame.

Arthur Ruger, Late Fall , 2001


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 11:08 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 8:44 AM PDT
Friday, 16 March 2007

Now Playing: Look Back at the previous anniversaries
Topic: Remembrances

Looking Back 

 


 

 

March 20, 2006
 

Speech by MFSO Member Jenny Keesey in Port Angeles, Washington

Good Afternoon.  My name is Jenny Keesey.  I represent Military Families Speak Out. 

Tomorrow we enter our fourth year in Iraq.  Today we gather to raise our collective voice in opposition to a war that was based on lies and to oppose the policies that sent our troops into harms way for motives we will never fully know.   We gather to voice our outrage at a government that casts a blind eye and deaf ear toward the citizens of this country.  All across the nation, people are gathering – just as we are – to demand that our government bring our troops home now.  Not over the course of several years, not over the course of 12 months, but NOW.

For as long as I can remember, my son’s dream has been to be a soldier.  He announced this to me when he was five years old.  A few years later, he and his two best friends made a sacred pact that only nine-year-old boys can make.  They pledged that they would all join the military and be soldiers as soon as they were old enough.

Through the years, and sometimes across many miles, these three boys held fast to their pledge and their friendship to each other.  Our families have grown close because of the bond between these men.  Two of us are single Moms that wondered if we would ever survive raising teenage boys.  We shared in their joys, their not-so-wonderful moments, and now we (all three families) share the unease of the times.

 In 2002, two boys joined the Army and the other joined the Marines.  Today, one is in Fallujah, one is at Ft Hood, Texas awaiting deployment early next month to Baghdad, and one is scheduled to deploy early next year.  They have not second-guessed their decision to join the military.  They do not regret it.  All are proud to wear the uniform, and all understand much better than our leaders do the responsibilities that go along with wearing the uniform.

They carry the pride of their accomplishments and their newfound self-respect like a badge of honor.  Before he left for his duty station, I asked my son just what it was that made him want to join the military.  He assured me that he didn’t join for the college money, he didn’t join for the medical benefits, and he didn’t join to see the world, although seeing the world, he said, was a great bonus.  He simply said it was what he was meant to do.  It was that clear-cut.

I respect my son.  I respect all three of these boys.  But, I do not respect this war or the people who took us there. 

The arrogance of our leaders resulted in the squandering of any goodwill the world felt for us before the war began.  When I speak of leaders, I mean all of our leaders, from the Oval Office to the Senate to the House of Representatives.  Where we - as a nation and as a people - are at this moment, is a result of a meltdown that spans political parties and all branches of government.   While we were lied to by one branch of the government, the other branch stood silently by while our troops were sent into harms way without a plan to succeed and without the equipment they needed to be safe.

For those of us at home who questioned or criticized our government, we were labeled as unpatriotic – un-American.  Over the course of the past three years, it has been drummed into our heads, through hate radio and special interest TV media, that this is a fearful time to be an American.  I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of living in fear.  I’m tired of being told how I am supposed to think and what I’m supposed to fear.  I can tell you that it is not the fear of terrorists that keeps me up at night.  It is the fear of knowing my boys are fighting for a lie and that my government is in a horrible downward spiral.  

We cannot demand the freedoms of our Constitution if we are not willing to stand up and voice our opposition when our leaders take us down the wrong path.   I would like to read to you a statement made by conservative Ohio Senator Robert Taft.   He said, “ 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.”  Senator Taft made this statement just a few short days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

A recent survey revealed that 72% of military personnel believe that it is time to leave Iraq. 

A recent Gallup Poll survey has revealed that 51% of Americans now believe that we were lied to about weapons of mass destruction. 

67% are now convinced that there is not a clear plan for Iraq. 

When asked how Americans felt it was going in Iraq 60% of those polled stated that it is going badly. 

Finally, when asked if going into Iraq was a mistake 57% of those surveyed said that it was.

It is our duty to hold our elected officials accountable.  More importantly it is our responsibility – no, it’s our obligation - to our soldiers.   They need us to do that now more than ever.   They need us to stand up for them as they would stand up for us.  We must get them home now and take care of them when they get here.  Not one more dime should be spent for the sake of killing.  Not one more life should be lost.  The cost of losing a loved one is too much to ask of our families.  Putting their lives on the line for a cause that has been nothing more than a lie is too much to ask of our soldiers. 

It’s time to bring them home. 

It’s time for our country to heal.


Community marches against war

 

M. ALEXANDER OTTO; The News Tribune
Published: March 20th, 2006 01:00 AM

 

 

About 1,000 people rallied Sunday in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood to protest the Iraq war on the third anniversary of its beginning.

Church leaders, labor groups, soldiers, longshoreman, veterans, military families, politicians, professors, and others joined in opposition to the war with a march from People’s Park to People’s Center.

With speeches, signs, and discussions, they made their points: The Bush Administration misled the country into a needless war with false data about Iraq being a terrorist threat; the conflict is being funded by cutting essential education, housing and health care programs; and the war is unwinnable and should end as soon as possible.

Signs and buttons carried slogans like “think outside the Fox, impeach Bush,” “ignorance isn’t patriotic” and “support our troops … bring ’em home.” No one was there to argue the other side of the issue.

The demonstrators held several moments of silence for U.S. soldiers and others killed in the conflict.

 

Joe Colgan, of Kent, said his son, Army 2nd Lt. Benjamin J. Colgan, was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad in November of 2003 while serving in an artillery unit.

After what’s come out about the conflict, he said, the fact that more people aren’t protesting “drives me nuts.”

Lietta Ruger, whose son-in-law and nephew, both 28, are in the Army and facing additional time in Iraq, said she hoped her efforts would prevent other families from feeling the uncertainty and pain of having loved ones in Iraq.

An Iraq war veteran took the stage with her.

“I did nothing positive in Iraq,” said Joshua Farris, 24, who said he served as an Army cavalry scout during the war’s first six months.

Referring to the protest, he said, “This is the right side of it.”

State Rep. Jeannie Darnielle, D-Tacoma, read a litany of complaints about the Bush administration’s conduct of the war: “Convincing us Saddam was linked to 9/11 was wrong! Denying civil war is imminent is wrong!” she said to cheers.

“Every American is contributing at least $1,500 per person per year” to the war effort, said Warren Freeman, pastor at Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church in Tacoma and Associated Ministries board member. “Too much money is being spent on the war, and not enough on health care, education, and housing.”

The protest was sponsored by Associated Ministries, the Church Council of Greater Seattle and United for Peace in Pierce County.

Laura Karlin, who helps operate Tacoma Catholic Worker’s hospitality house in Hilltop, said, “this is our neighborhood, and this is where we are seeing the program cuts, especially in low-income housing, shelter, and health care.” 


 2nd Anniversary: 2005

Thousands rally to protest Iraq war

Seattle Times staff reporter

 

As military families go, Lietta Ruger said, she is as red, white and blue as any proud mother.

But how could she reconcile her loyalty to the armed forces with her disdain for the Iraq war?

For months, she kept silent — until her son-in law faced mortar attacks every night at his Baghdad compound. That's when the Episcopal preacher in her came out.

Ruger, 53, of Bay Center, Pacific County, spoke out against the war on PBS' "The NewsHour" with Jim Lehrer last fall and to her congregation at St. John's Episcopal Church in South Bend, Pacific County.

And again yesterday: On the second anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, she gave an impassioned speech explaining why she believes the war in Iraq is unjust, before a crowd of anti-war protesters at Seattle Center. Organizers put the number of participants at 5,000.

The Seattle protest, put together by the Church Council of Greater Seattle, Washington State Jobs with Justice and Sound Nonviolent Opponents of War, was part of a worldwide movement designed to place pressure on the military and get attention from Washington, D.C.

 


ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES. Anti-war protesters at Seattle Center keep dry under a giant spine, part of the "Backbone Campaign" encouraging voters and politicians to show courage in opposing the U.S. war policy. From left: Fiona Smith, Jayson Radmer, his brother Zach, Sandy Oellien and Andy Royer (on cellphone).

 

 More than 700 marches, rallies, peace vigils and protests were held in communities from California to Illinois to New York, twice the number as last year, according to national organizers.

Thousands joined similar protests in European cities — 45,000 in London, according to The Associated Press. On both sides of the Atlantic, the protests were passionate but largely peaceful. Seattle police made no arrests.

In Seattle, Ruger, whose son-in-law and nephew are about to serve their second tour in Iraq, and who herself was raised in a military family, addressed the crowd knowing that "a lot of military [families] are not very happy with my message."

But, she said, "You should not let someone else define patriotism for you."

After the rally, the crowd marched in the rain from Seattle Center to Westlake Park and back. Several groups of students and political activists who had rallied elsewhere earlier in the day joined in the 90-minute march.

Among the marchers were church groups, labor unions and campus clubs, veterans and military spouses, organizers said.

There were protesters such as retired Lt. John Oliveira, 39, of Darrington, who told the Seattle Center crowd that he resigned from the Navy last year because he didn't want to continue pitching a war he didn't believe in.

 

ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Lietta Ruger, who addressed the anti-war gathering yesterday at Seattle Center, places a pin on her husband, Arthur

 

 

 

 

Two years ago, Oliveira said, he looked into the cameras of several television networks and "sold this war as a war on terrorism, removing weapons of mass destruction and the Iraqi nuclear threat.

"Well, we have found out that that was the biggest lie ever perpetrated on the American people," he said.

Ruger feels more at peace now that she is expressing her displeasure over the war and what it is doing to her family, she said. While her son-in-law served 15 months in Iraq, she had to console her daughter and help out by baby-sitting her three grandchildren.

Ruger declined to give her son-in-law's name but said "He will do his mission, but his preference is to be home." He is a 25-year old Army sergeant. "If I could do it, I would go in his place," she said.

The woman who once stayed silent now lobbies Olympia lawmakers to get the Washington National Guard out of Iraq and has joined a military-family group against the war.

Ruger, who grew up on a military base in Japan and 11 years ago married a Vietnam veteran, Arthur Ruger, 57, said, "I have absolute pride in the military."

Her husband also gave the crowd some advice: "You can be against the war, you can disagree with Bush and still be a patriot."

Information in this report about other anti-war protests came from the Washington Post, The New York Times and The Associated Press.

 


 "But the White House does care, very much, when members of the military and of military families start speaking out.

By far the most powerful speaker at Saturday's rally was a Pacific County woman, Lietta Ruger, who has a son-in-law and nephew about to serve their second tours of duty in Iraq. Hers is a military family; she is middle-aged, patriotic, and able to cast the risks and costs of Iraq in starkly personal terms.

In a word, she has credibility that those of us without personal links to the struggle in Iraq do not have."
- Geov Parrish, CommonDreams.org: Antiwar Activism: Closing the Credibility Gap


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Saturday, 17 March 2007 2:41 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