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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CHRONOLOGICAL ARCHIVES
into our 3rd year of speaking out
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Thursday, 3 May 2007
Military bans soldiers blogs - emails, online activity on threat of disciplinary action, even court martial
Topic: Breaking News

Read the complete article at; link - Wired News.

Army Squeezes Soldier Blogs, Maybe to Death 

Noah Shachtman, May 2, 2007

The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer, Wired News has learned. The directive, issued April 19, is the sharpest restriction on troops' online activities since the start of the Iraq war. And it could mean the end of military blogs, observers say.

Military officials have been wrestling for years with how to handle troops who publish blogs. Officers have weighed the need for wartime discretion against the opportunities for the public to personally connect with some of the most effective advocates for the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq -- the troops themselves. The secret-keepers have generally won the argument, and the once-permissive atmosphere has slowly grown more tightly regulated. Soldier-bloggers have dropped offline as a result.

The new rules (.pdf) obtained by Wired News require a commander be consulted before every blog update.

"This is the final nail in the coffin for combat blogging," said retired paratrooper Matthew Burden, editor of The Blog of War anthology. "No more military bloggers writing about their experiences in the combat zone. This is the best PR the military has -- it's most honest voice out of the war zone. And it's being silenced."

Army Regulation 530--1: Operations Security (OPSEC) (.pdf) restricts more than just blogs, however. Previous editions of the rules asked Army personnel to "consult with their immediate supervisor" before posting a document "that might contain sensitive and/or critical information in a public forum." The new version, in contrast, requires "an OPSEC review prior to publishing" anything -- from "web log (blog) postings" to comments on internet message boards, from resumes to letters home.

Failure to do so, the document adds, could result in a court-martial, or "administrative, disciplinary, contractual, or criminal action."

Despite the absolutist language, the guidelines' author, Major Ray Ceralde, said there is some leeway in enforcement of the rules. "It is not practical to check all communication, especially private communication," he noted in an e-mail. "Some units may require that soldiers register their blog with the unit for identification purposes with occasional spot checks after an initial review. Other units may require a review before every posting."

But with the regulations drawn so tightly, "many commanders will feel like they have no choice but to forbid their soldiers from blogging -- or even using e-mail," said Jeff Nuding, who won the bronze star for his service in Iraq. "If I'm a commander, and think that any slip-up gets me screwed, I'm making it easy: No blogs," added Nuding, writer of the "pro-victory" Dadmanly site. "I think this means the end of my blogging."

Active-duty troops aren't the only ones affected by the new guidelines. Civilians working for the military, Army contractors -- even soldiers' families -- are all subject to the directive as well.  

Read rest of the article at the link

(posted by Lietta Ruger)


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 2:27 PM PDT
MFSO -WA at weekly vigil, Federal Building, Seattle, WA
Topic: Events

MFSO member, David Kannas, at the Tuesday 11 AM - 1 PM weekly vigil, Federal Building, Seattle, WA.

MFSO member, David Kannas in yellow bicycling attire stands with Abe Oshercroff, Abraham Lincoln Brigade veteran.

 

Joe Colgan, a veteran, and father of Army 2nd Lt. Benjamin J. Colgan, 1st Armorded Division, 30, of Kent, WA who was killed in Baghdad, Iraq November 1, 2003.   Joe has been holding weekly vigils since summer 2006 at the Federal Building, Seattle, WA every Tuesday 11AM - 1 PM.  On 2nd Avenue, between Madison and Marion Streets.

(posted by Lietta Ruger)


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 2:05 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007 9:18 AM PDT
MFSO - WA at NW Conference, WSU, Pullman, WA April 19-21, 2007
Topic: Events

Military Families Speak Out - Washington state chapter was invited to give a presententation at 2007 NW Progressive Conference held at Washington State University in Pullman, WA.

David Kannas, Arthur Ruger and Lietta Ruger headed out on a sunny Friday, April 20, from Western Washington to Eastern Washington to introduce Military Families Speak Out to Eastern Washington. David got within 150 miles of Pullman when his vehicle decided it would go no further.

David spent the rest of Friday making arrangements for vehicle repairs. He had a great introduction presentation prepared, and even if he didn't get a chance to give it, I'd like to include the text here.

Arthur and Lietta gave the presentations at WSU, and followed up with meeting people at the MFSO merchandising table. Photos below.

               2007 Northwest Progressive Conference

                   Washington State University

                            Pullman, WA

                          April 19-21, 2007

Bios as they appeared in the program for Military Families Speak Out;

 David Kannas:  

 
His son is career Security Police serving TDYs in Kuwait, Kyrgistan, and two in Iraq (Balad and Kirkuk). During his last tour he worked with the Army doing convoy security from Balad to FOBs. Trained by the U.S. Army in heavy weapons and field medical treatment. He was responsible for a medical kit that included equipment to treat traumatic amputation and IV insertion.  He is going to return to Iraq some time this summer.

David is a Vietnam veteran as Security Police with the U.S. Air Force. Masters in Speech Communication. Taught public speaking at College of Marin in CA while a graduate student.  Taught Criminal Law at Shoreline Community College; Intro to Criminal Investigation at Washington State Police Academy. Invited guest speaker at several colleges on various issues related to Criminal Justice.  Retired from the Seattle Police Department; Detective - Homicide/Assault Unit.

"I am proud of my service and remain a patriot to this day and strongly support the military but not the abuse of the military  as is now the case."


   Lietta Ruger

She has two returing Iraq veterans in her famil, her son-in-law and her nephew.  Both are active U.S. Army and served in a 15 month extended (stop-lossed) deployments, 1st Armored, Operation Iraq Freedom, March 2003 through July 2004. Her son-in-law is in training now for second deployment to Iraq in 2007, which will be another extended (stop-lossed) 15 month deployment.  Her nephew believes he will also face second deployment to Iraq this year, 2007.

Lietta was a young military wife to husband drafted and deployed to Vietnam.  She was was raised in the military life in an Air Force family where home was numerous military installations abroad and in U.S..
 
Lietta has had 16 year career in social work specification with state of Washingtn. She began training to become a licensed Episcopal lay preacher in 2003. She began her activism in speaking out against the Iraq war with her sermons in 2003, then joined Military Families Speak Out where her first public media interview was with Newshour with Jim Lehrer, which aired October 2004. 

She is now the Military Families Speak Out, Washington state chapter coordinator, and over the years of activism, she has participated in delegation meetings with many U.S. Congress Senators and  Representatives in supporting our our military troops by advocating to bring them home now and take care of them when they get home. She has spent time camping in a ditch in Crawford, Texas in the first week August 2005 in support of Cindy Sheehan's month long Camp Casey Vigil. She spent four weeks on the Bring Them Home Now bus tour from Crawford, Texas to Washington DC in September 2005.


She was one of the organizers for 8 months of support campaigns leading up to the court martial of Lt. Ehren Watada, the first U.S. Army Officer to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq in June 2006 based on his discernment of Iraq as an illegal war, therefore illegal orders to deploy to Iraq.

Military Families Speak Out  -   www.mfso.org

website - Military Families Speak Out - Washington state chapter 

Lietta's blog - Dying to Preserve the Lies  http://dyingwarriors.blogspot.com/
 

    Arthur Ruger:


    Arthur is a Viet Nam Era Veteran having served 6 years in the USAF and 2 years in the Army Reserves. Arthur is also a member of The Prop Wash Gang, an online group of veterans who all served a somewhat unique airborne duty. See Silent Warriors.com   http://www.silent-warriors.com

    Arthur Ruger is a social worker employed by the State of Washington, past president of Local 970 of the Washington Federation of State Employees and serves currently as the union shop steward for DSHS offices in South Bend, Long Beach and Aberdeen, Washington. Arthur is also certified as a Spanish and Russian interpreter for DSHS.

    Born in Idaho in 1946, he is a charter member of the Baby Boomers who - after classes at six institutions of higher learning - managed to graduate with a B.A. in Russian Studies from the University of Houston, Texas.

    Originally trained for priesthood and ministry in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Arthur more recently has labored at St. Johns Episcopal Parish in South Bend, Washington as a lay preacher, organist and Senior Warden.

    In addition to an intense interest in the American political and regious scene, Arthur's is actively concerned with leigitmate family values and priorities and not the pretend issues of those seeking political power and wealth.

    "Family issues and values are important as we are parents of a blended family with 8 children and 15 grandchildren."

    An adamant believer in the power of the internet and need for an online citizen's sharing community, Arthur writes and publishes following blogs:

Willapa Magazine : (General Interest) http://www.swandeer.com/willapa/

The American Choice: (Politics and Civics)   http://www.swandeer.com

The American Christian: (Religion) http://arthur-ruger.blogspot.com/

 


Arthur Ruger, MFSO member stands beside the banner at Todd Hall, WSU, Pullman, WA.


Lietta Ruger, MFSO member stands beside the banner at Todd Hall, WSU, Pullman, WA.


Arthur Ruger at MFSO table points to our message 'Bring Them Home Now'


Just in case you didn't get a good enough look at our new Washington state chapter MFSO banner.

 

MFSO member, David Kannas, prepared speech:

NW Progressive Conference (MFSO) 

By way of introduction, let me say that I am not an anti-military, unpatriotic wacko as some on the other side of my politics would have you believe. 

I am a person with a personal stake in this illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq. My son, Dylan, a former student at WSU, has been in Iraq twice and will return some time this summer. My daughter, Rachel, was until recently in the Army Reserve and was activated when she was a senior in nursing at PLU. She was active for a year in Texas then returned to college to make up that year. She is now an RN. Rachel was recently informed that although she served her eight years in the reserve, she is still eligible for recall because of stop loss. She is five months pregnant with our grandchild, so may be deferred like Cheney was during Vietnam. In short, my family has a long history of military service and I am proud of that. 

The point here is that my views about this “war” can’t be questioned on patriotic grounds. I just don’t think that blindly following bad leadership is patriotic. My views certainly can’t be judged as unpatriotic by a president who took a reserve slot during Vietnam that assured that he would never go there and who did not complete that commitment. A vice president who took multiple deferments while in college because he was “otherwise occupied” most certainly can’t question it.  

All that aside, why am I unwilling to sit by while this illegal and immoral occupation continues? There are multiple reasons, but primarily I don’t want to see my country drug any further down by this administration. I don’t want to see any more names of the military dead who gave the last measure when those who sent them there did not have the guts to do the same. I don’t want to see the carnage that Iraq has experienced continued in my name. I want to be proud of my country. I want my son, who has chosen a military career, to be able to do that in good conscience and with the knowledge that he and his comrades are not being thrown away by an administration that thinks that power and politics trump honor and decency.  

So, what am I doing to make my voice heard? There are some fairly mundane things that I do.         

Becoming a part of MFSO is one of those.        

Every Tuesday from eleven to one I march in front of the Federal Building in Seattle with a group of like-minded people. One of these people is Joe Colgan whose son was killed in Iraq in 2003. We carry placards, hand out flyers, talk to passers by, wave at cars that pass and blow their horns in support. We also visit Senator Murray’s office periodically and let them know that we are still thinking of them. Joe and another one of our group sat in at her office for 28 hours at one point waiting for an answer to a question. They weren’t arrested or forced out. Basically, we forced people to notice us and the purpose for our being there.         

I also marched in the parade in Seattle that marked the fourth anniversary of this invasion. We were a huge voice for change that could not be ignored. The marched stopped an orderly commute for many people that day, but I did not here one bad word from anyone. Many who were just walking along the sidewalk joined us and made the voice louder. Such a voice can’t be ignored.             

I talk then talk some more.          

I write poetry. Not great poetry, but poetry none-the-less, and I spread it around unashamedly. You may be subjected to some of that today.  

And I seek out like-minded people for support and a sense that there are others who think you I do.  

I recall Vietnam and how I went into it full of piss and vinegar, to use an old phrase. Then I woke up from that nightmare. What brought me around? Time and distance for certain. But also the deafening roar of voices against it. Voices of people like you and me, but mostly of people like you, students and young people in general.  

On Tuesday when our little group is marching in front of the Federal Building in Seattle, I notice one thing that stands out in our group: gray hair. We are mostly codgers, gray beards. One man comes in a wheel chair when he comes. One man can only stay for an hour because he has cancer and can’t stand for long, but he comes. There are some Vietnam Vets like me.  

Is my voice a call to arms? You better believe it is! I am asking you all to join us in voicing your opposition to this illegal invasion and occupation of a country that did not present a security threat to us and whose people don’t deserve what they’re being dealt.  

So, I ask that you support the troops by bringing them home and by taking care of them when they return.

 

 

 


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 1:28 PM PDT
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, awarded for her opposition to troop surge in Iraq.
Topic: Politicians in Action

 We, the military families of Military Families Speak Out - Washington state chapter  thank you, Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles for having our backs with initiating your Petition to Congress from Washington state opposing sending more troops to Iraq.   Respect to you Senator.

                            

“Our state has lost 67 sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brother and sisters there. We’ve spent more than $8.6 billion since the outbreak of hostilities. In very painful and very direct ways, Iraq is close to us.”

 (from her website) April 20, 2007

Kohl-Welles receives legislator of the year honor

OLYMPIA – For her state-level work against the Iraq War and her introduction of Senate Joint Memorial 8003, requesting the U.S. Congress to refrain from funding an escalation of the American presence in Iraq and to require the president to seek congressional approval prior to any escalation, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, was one of three state legislators in the country to receive the “Legislator of the Year” award from the Progressive States Network at its April 19 gala in Washington, D.C.

Also honored were U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Democratic Party activist Deborah Rappaport for their efforts at the national level.

Kohl-Welles also participated in a news conference with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and U.S. Sens. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, on efforts by state legislatures requesting Congress and the president to end the war in Iraq.

According to the Progressive States Network, Kohl-Welles is being recognized for her courageous leadership in bringing forward her petition to Congress from Washington state opposing sending more troops to Iraq.

“During the past four years, it has become quite clear that the president’s schoolyard bully approach to foreign policy is an abysmal failure,” Kohl-Welles said. “The war in Iraq has cost us too much, in lives and dollars, and I stand with the majority of Washingtonians and my constituents in the 36th Legislative District who have been outspoken in their opposition to the war and in calling for an end to this debacle.”

SJM 8003 received a public hearing in the Senate Government Operations & Elections Committee last month. Families of service members who died in action and former soldiers joined representatives from several organizations in testifying in support of the memorial.

In her testimony, Kohl-Welles spoke to the nexus between the state of Washington and the war effort.

“Our state has lost 67 sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brother and sisters there. We’ve spent more than $8.6 billion since the outbreak of hostilities. In very painful and very direct ways, Iraq is close to us.”

 

 more on Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles and also note the 29 other states that have joined an Anti-Escalation Campaign  

excerpt is from David Sirota's blog

I’m finally back home in Montana from a week-long trip on the East Coast where, among other things, I attended the Progressive States Network’s first annual gala (you may have seen it replayed on C-SPAN this weekend).

 The event followed a press conference with state legislators and U.S. Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to trumpet the 29 states that have joined the Progressive States Network’s Anti-Escalation Campaign by introducing or passing resolutions demanding President Bush stop escalating the war in Iraq.                          

           photo is of Washington State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles accepts Progressive States Network award for her Iraq resolution

 

  Click on this link to go to this page and send message to your Legislator    

     Tell Your Legislator: Stop the Escalation

We have only a matter of time to prevent this escalation. Fortunately, brave state legislators across the country are leading the charge — demanding that Congress take strong action to prevent President Bush from escalating this war.

Fortunately, here in Washington, Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles has introduced a resolution demanding a change in policy. Now we just need more support.

Use the form below to ask your legislators to join Senator Kohl-Welles in this act of courage. A resolution passing the legislature will send an incredibly strong signal to our members of Congress that they have a responsibility to our troops and to the American people to prevent this rash action.

Please, feel free to customize the message.

 

April 24, 2007

Subject:

States have a unique role to play in the escalation debate. Any attempt to escalate the war poses grave dangers to the National Guard -- a key emergency responder to natural diasters for state governments.

This proposed escalation is opposed by military experts who know it threatens our military and will do nothing to end the civil war in Iraq.

Here in Washington, Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles is introducing a resolution opposing the escalation. As a constituent, I’d encourage you to sign on with this resolution.

We can make a difference.

Thank you,

Tracking State Action; Iraq  

 


above entry posted by Lietta Ruger


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:26 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 24 April 2007 2:02 PM PDT
Monday, 23 April 2007
a memorial edition for the News Tribune featuring all of those young men and women who have lost their lives in Iraq.
Now Playing: Letter to The Olympian from MFSO member, Jessie
Topic: Members Speak Out
  Dear Editor,

 I am a member of MFSO (Military Families Speak Out).  My neighbor just left for his 3rd tour in Iraq a few weeks ago.  While my neighbor and I are not exceptionally close, I did take the opportunity to telephone him before he left and thanked him for his service to our country even though I am thoroughly against this war, I fully support him and will pray for his safe return for his wife and family's sake.  He is now  stationed just north of Bagdad.

 Today's news reports that we have just lost another 9 U. S. soldiers.  Given your proximity to the Ft. Lewis army base, I ask whether your newspaper keeps a list of those Ft. Lewis soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq?  Given the fact that President Bush calls for a national day of mourning for the Virginia Tech mass shooting and then consider our soldiers whose lives are sacrificed each and every day as this war rages on.  Yet they are just a mere ticker tape mention on CNN.  I suggest a memorial edition for the Olympian that features all of those young men and women who have lost their lives in Iraq.  Make their lives more meaningful than a mere tickertape mention on CNN. Please consider this.
-Jessie

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 10:04 PM PDT
Updated: Wednesday, 25 April 2007 7:06 AM PDT
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

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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