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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Contact us


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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2 Jul, 07 > 8 Jul, 07
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Monday, 23 April 2007
Sundance channel airing 'Ground Truth' and 'Sir! No Sir!' May 7
Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Soldiers Speak Out
Hi chapters,

   My 'find' this morning;   Sundance channel airing two great dvds - one we know about =
'Ground Truth' and if you haven't yet seen 'Sir! No Sir!' then I'd like to recommend it - highly.    Best to you all  -  Lietta - WA state chapter

             http://www.sundancechannel.com/schedule/

On Monday May 7th 2007...there will be an historic night of GI resistance on national television as the Sundance Channel presents the U.S. broadcast premiere of both

Sir! No Sir!
Monday, May 7
The Sundance Channel
9 pm Eastern
8 pm Central
7 pm Mountain
6 pm Pacific

The Ground Truth
Monday, May 7
The Sundance Channel
10:30 pm Eastern
9:30 pm Central
8:30 pm Mountain
7:30 pm Pacific

*******************

This is a wonderful chance for millions of people to see these films that, together, link the tremendous movement of American soldiers against the Vietnam war with the growing opposition
among soldiers to the Iraq war today.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 9:05 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 24 April 2007 12:57 PM PDT
Monday, 16 April 2007
Air Force fills out Army ranks in Iraq
Now Playing: By MICHELLE ROBERTS, Associated Press Writer Sun Apr 15, 7:08 PM ET
Topic: News - troop rotations
 
AP Photo: Air Force Tech
Sgt. Shawn Foust and other
members of the 424 Medium
Truck Division...


CAMP BULLIS, Texas - A row of rumbling flatbed trucks and Humvees outfitted with gun turrets lurches toward a mock village of cinderblock buildings where instructors posing as insurgents wait to test the trainees' convoy protection skills.

The training range is Army, as is the duty itself — one of the most dangerous in Iraq these days. But the young men and women clad in camouflage and helmets training to run and protect convoys are not Army; they're Air Force. They are part of a small but steady stream of airmen being trained to do Army duty under the Army chain of command, a tangible sign the Pentagon was scouring the military to aid an Iraq force that was stretched long before President Bush ordered 21,500 additional U.S. troops there.
"What we've seen is the Department of Defense continues to find ways to meet the
AP Photo: Air Force Tech Sgt.
Shawn Foust and other members
of the 424 Medium Truck Division...

 requirements imposed by the commander in chief," said retired Brig. Gen. Kevin Ryan, a senior fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center in the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

No plans to expand the Air Force's role in convoy operations have been announced since Bush ordered the troop surge in Iraq, but Ryan said the Army and other branches of service have been looking at every possible job that can be shifted — from the Air Force performing convoy duty to the Navy setting up medical facilities far from waterfronts.

"I can't imagine there are any jobs that they could be doing that they aren't doing, but certainly, that doesn't mean they're not continuing to look to find every possible instance where we can use the full military to solve this problem and not just have this be an Army and Marine Corps issue," he said.

Read the entire article at Yahoo News

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 6:30 AM PDT
Sunday, 15 April 2007
3 More Months
Now Playing: Cartoonist is Tony Auth and site is www.slate.com

 Cartoonist is Tony Auth at site Slate.com

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 8:30 AM PDT
Thursday, 12 April 2007
Gates extends deployments 90 days in Iraq, Afghanistan
Topic: News - troop rotations

Deployment extensions not going over well

 art
LEILA FUJIMORI / LFUJIMORI@STARBULLETIN.COM

"We're going to miss him bad, but watching the kids missing him is worse. He's going to miss out on a lot."
Celina Malone
Her husband deploys in November

 Extended tours disappoint and irk isle military families

» Reserve and Guard could also get longer deployment

By Leila Fujimori and Gregg K. Kakesako
lfujimori@starbulletin.com | gkakesako@starbulletin.com

Some families do not like a new Pentagon policy that extends deployments by three months of Hawaii-based soldiers who will be going to or are already in Iraq.

More than 7,000 Schofield Barracks soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division will spend three months in addition to their standard 12-month deployment in Iraq, under the policy announced yesterday in Washington.

 


Families were displeased with news that Hawaii-based soldiers who face deployment to Iraq or are already there will have to wait an extra three months before coming home.

"I really don't like it," Ashley Cruz, 19, whose husband will be deploying in November, said at McDonald's restaurant in Wahiawa. "I don't think they should be there at all. They need to pull everybody out."

Cruz is expecting their first child in August, and the Arizona couple just arrived in Hawaii a couple of months ago. She's made a couple of friends so far and plans to stay in Hawaii.

The Pentagon announced a new policy yesterday in Washington that will result in the more than 7,000 Schofield Barracks soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division spending an extra three months in Iraq.

The soldiers, the majority of them assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team that left here last summer, are among the 15,000 troops affected by the policy announced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Under the policy, all active-duty Army soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will serve 15-month tours, three months longer than the usual standard deployment.

 

art

Many Schofield Barracks soldiers and their families were expecting such an announcement after the Pentagon last week extended by 45 days the tour of the division's headquarters unit, which included its commander, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon. The Tropic Lightning soldiers deployed to Iraq last summer in what was supposed to be a yearlong assignment.

Yesterday's announcement covers all of the Schofield Barracks soldiers in Iraq, including Mixon's headquarters unit. The Pentagon's announcement does not affect the Marines Corps, the Air Force, Navy or the National Guard and Army Reserve.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the deployment extensions are a "difficult but necessary interim step" to stabilize Baghdad.

Celina Malone, 22, said she'll take her 1- and 3-year-old daughters home to Georgia when her husband leaves Schofield for his first deployment.

"We're going to miss him bad, but watching the kids missing him is worse," she said. "He's going to miss out on a lot."

Daughter MacKenzie Malone, 3, piped up: "I don't want him to get hurt."

But 22-year-old Spc. Mike Malone Jr. will leave his family sooner than November. He's off to California in July for training, returns in October, then deploys in November.

Hawaii Air National Guard Capt. Rosemarie Ader, 33, said she may volunteer to serve in Iraq to spare others who have deployed multiple times.

"My brother-in-law has been there three times and my sister has three kids," she said. "If I can bring a husband or a wife home, yeah, I'd like to do my part in the war."

Ader said the lengthier deployment is not fair to people like her brother-in-law, an Army ranger in the infantry, who is already slated to go a fourth time after his return in August.

Amber Marcotte, 21, whose husband deploys in November, is expecting their first child in August. "He's going to miss the first year of our baby," she said.

"I'm just waiting for him to get it all over with," she said.

 

 

Gates announces longer tours in Iraq

 

PAULINE JELINEK; The Associated Press
Last updated: April 11th, 2007 01:47 PM (PDT)

WASHINGTON - Beginning immediately, all active-duty Army soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will serve 15-month tours - three months longer than the usual standard, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.

It was the latest move by the Pentagon to cope with the strains of fighting two wars simultaneously and maintaining a higher troop level in Iraq as part of President Bush's revised strategy for stabilizing Baghdad.

"This policy is a difficult but necessary interim step," Gates told a Pentagon news conference, adding that the goal is to eventually return to 12 months as the standard length of tour in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said the new policy does not affect the other main components of the U.S. ground force in Iraq: the Marines, whose standard tour is seven months, or the Army National Guard or Army Reserve, which will continue to serve 12-month tours.

Gates acknowledged that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are making life difficult for many in the military.

"Our forces are stretched, there's no question about that," Gates said.

He said the new policy also seeks to ensure that all active-duty Army units get at least 12 months at home between deployments. He said it would allow the Pentagon to maintain the current level of troops in Iraq for another year, although he added that there has been no decision on future troop levels.

Soldiers will get an extra $1,000 a month for the three extra months they serve, he said.

Without changing the standard tour length to 15 months, the Army would have been forced to send five brigades to Iraq before they completed 12 months at home, Gates said.

Some units' tours in Iraq had already been extended beyond 12 months by varying amounts. The new policy will make deployments more equitable and more predictable for soldiers and for their families, Gates said.

"I think it is fair to all soldiers that all share the burden equally," he said.

There are currently 145,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, and when the buildup is completed by June, there would be more than 160,000, officials are calculating.

 

Washington state media reports:

Seattle Times - Ft. Lewis to feel the strain of longer Iraq tours

 Seattle Post Intelligencer - Soldiers' war tours extended
Most at Fort Lewis resigned to 15-month separation

Tacoma News Tribune (Tacoma, WA - Fort Lewis) -  Longer combat tours announced today will hit home at Fort Lewis

 The Olympian (Olympia, WA) - Two Fort Lewis brigades affected by tour extension

 The Columbain (Vancouver, WA) - Ft Lewis Strykers will have their Iraq tours extended by 3 months

 Tri-City Herald (Mid-WA, Richland, Pasco, Kennewick, WA) - Gates announces longer tours in Iraq

Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA) - Gates extends deployments 90 days in Iraq, Afghanistan

(items shared by Lietta Ruger)


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 8:51 AM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 12 April 2007 8:57 AM PDT
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

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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