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.
Archive


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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CHRONOLOGICAL ARCHIVES
into our 3rd year of speaking out
20 Oct, 08 > 26 Oct, 08
7 Jan, 08 > 13 Jan, 08
5 Nov, 07 > 11 Nov, 07
17 Sep, 07 > 23 Sep, 07
23 Jul, 07 > 29 Jul, 07
9 Jul, 07 > 15 Jul, 07
11 Jun, 07 > 17 Jun, 07
4 Jun, 07 > 10 Jun, 07
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7 May, 07 > 13 May, 07
30 Apr, 07 > 6 May, 07
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26 Mar, 07 > 1 Apr, 07
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26 Feb, 07 > 4 Mar, 07
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29 Jan, 07 > 4 Feb, 07
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15 Jan, 07 > 21 Jan, 07
8 Jan, 07 > 14 Jan, 07
1 Jan, 07 > 7 Jan, 07
20 Nov, 06 > 26 Nov, 06
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28 Aug, 06 > 3 Sep, 06
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27 Mar, 06 > 2 Apr, 06
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30 Jan, 06 > 5 Feb, 06
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24 Jan, 05 > 30 Jan, 05
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18 Oct, 04 > 24 Oct, 04
11 Oct, 04 > 17 Oct, 04
4 Oct, 04 > 10 Oct, 04

Sunday, 27 May 2007
Creating a 21st Century System of Care for Our Wounded Warriors
Now Playing: Donna E. Shalala
Topic: Take Care of Them

 For decades, local communities have gathered on Memorial Day to march down their "Main Street" to salute our troops and celebrate our freedom. This year, as we gather at local and national events around the country to remember our fallen heroes, let's take a moment to salute those who have also sacrificed dearly -- our injured and wounded warriors.

Perhaps this is on my mind more this year than ever before because I have spent the last two months as co-chair of the President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors talking with our service men and women, their families, health care professionals and countless experts. Our Commission is tasked with the enormous, yet critical responsibility of providing recommendations to the president on how to ensure that our wounded warriors have a seamless system of care. It's a problem that many before us have tried to tackle with varying degrees of success. But my co-chair, Bob Dole, and I are not people who take no for an answer. We would not have taken this assignment on if we did not think that solutions could be found and implemented.

 
U.S. soldiers carry a wounded soldier, following a blast on a road between Fallujah and Baghdad, at a military base in Abu Ghraib May 19, 2007. A U.S. soldier died following the roadside bomb attack south of Baghdad. Five other soldiers including two Iraqis were also wounded.  REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Our one frustration is that, given that we need to get our recommendations to the president by the end of July, we cannot get to every place we want to see or talk to as many wounded warriors and their families as we should. That's where our website comes in. We have set up a "share your story" feature on the Commission website and we encourage wounded warriors, their families and all concerned citizens to email us. The emails and correspondence we receive are very helpful to us as we get down to the hard task of drafting the recommendations. So, take a moment, and log on -- see what we've been up to and if you have a story to share, send us an email.

We live in a twenty first century world with technology and the means to communicate that I never thought possible. Now, our task is to create a twenty first century system of care for our twenty first century wounded warriors and those injured in the line of duty. It may mean knocking down some barriers, but we've got the will to do it. Stay tuned...

 

Donna E. Shalala became Professor of Political Science and President of the University of Miami on June 1, 2001. President Shalala has more than 25 years of experience as an accomplished scholar, teacher, and administrator.

In 1993 President Clinton appointed her U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) where she served for eight years, becoming the longest serving HHS Secretary in U.S. history. At the beginning of her tenure, HHS had a budget of nearly $600 billion, which included a wide variety of programs including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Child Care and Head Start, Welfare, the Public Health Service, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One of the country’s first Peace Corp volunteers, she served in Iran from 1962 to 1964.

As HHS Secretary, she directed the welfare reform process, made health insurance available to an estimated 3.3 million children through the approval of all State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), raised child immunization rates to the highest levels in history, led major reforms of the FDA’s drug approval process and food safety system, revitalized the National Institutes of Health, and directed a major management and policy reform of Medicare. At the end of her tenure as HHS Secretary, The Washington Post described her as “one of the most successful government managers of modern times.” Read her complete blogger biography at Huffington Post.com

 

 


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 7:55 AM PDT
Tuesday, 15 May 2007
Military Families Respond to Reports of Inadequate Care For PTSD
Topic: Take Care of Them
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 14, 2007
5:13 PM

 

CONTACT: Military Families Speak Out
Ateqah Khaki, Riptide Communications,
509-301-5282, ateqah@riptideonline.com
Nancy Lessin, Military Families Speak Out,
617-320-5301, mfso@mfso.org

    
Military Families Respond to Reports of Inadequate Care For PTSD
Troops Deployed to and Kept in Iraq despite PTSD Diagnosis, Not Receiving Care They Need When They Return, says Military Families Speak Out
    

WASHINGTON - May 14 - Servicemen and women suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder related to their combat experiences are routinely re-deployed to combat, and/or kept in combat, according the Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), a nationwide organization of 3,500 military families who have been speaking out in opposition to the war in Iraq. Recent reports, including a story in the New York Times regarding lack of mental health care at Ft. Carson in Colorado, have highlighted the issue of inadequate diagnosis, treatment and care for troops suffering from PTSD and related mental health ailments.

 

“Senators now reviewing the situation of care for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at Ft. Carson should expand the scope of their investigation to include all military bases in the United States, Germany and in Iraq,” stated Nancy Lessin, a co-founder of Military Families Speak Out. “We hear regularly from military families about loved ones diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who are given enough medication to last them their deployment and sent back to Iraq; or those who are given medication in Iraq and sent back out on combat missions.”

 

“There are a growing number of families like ours who have suffered the ultimate tragedy of this war, because our loved ones did not get the care they needed,” said Military Families Speak Out member Kevin Lucey of Belchertown, Massachusetts, whose son, Cpl. Jeffrey Michael Lucey took his own life on June 22, 2004 after being released from a Veterans Administration hospital in western Massachusetts without receiving proper care. Cpl. Lucey served with the Marine Reserves in Iraq in spring and summer, 2003.

 

AVAILABILITY OF FAMILIES FOR INTERVIEW

 

Members of Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families Speak Out whose loved ones have experienced inadequate care for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and related mental health ailments are available for interview. Contact Ateqah Khaki, Riptide Communications, 509-301-5282, ateqah@riptideonline.com; Nancy Lessin, Military Families Speak Out, 617-320-5301, mfso@mfso.org

 

Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) is a national organization of 3,500 families who are opposed to the war in Iraq and have loved ones in the military. Gold Star Families Speak Out (GSFSO) is a chapter of Military Families Speak Out, made up of families whose loved ones died as a result of the war in Iraq.

 

For more information about Military Families Speak Out, please visit: http://www.mfso.org

 

For more information about Gold Star Families Speak Out visit http://www.gsfso.org

 

(posted by Lietta Ruger)


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 11:47 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
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
Sunday, 25 March 2007
Action is worth 1000 words but talk - like slogan - is cheap
Now Playing: Christian Science Monitor and an opinion by Arthur Ruger
Topic: Take Care of Them
Americans support the troops with food, soap, DVDs

 

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

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

 

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

Page 1 of 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other troops report similar experiences.

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

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

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

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


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

 

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

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Take Care of Them

Chopped liver at Walter Reed. I'm a Veteran before I'm a Democrat

While everybody is being important, talking wise talk, trying to stop surges, the Walter Reed scandal shows just who is really chopped liver on the political priority list.

From: Patty Murray's
Official Website
Veterans

The Challenge

"I made a promise to myself after volunteering at the Seattle veterans hospital during the Vietnam War that I would do everything I could to help those individuals who sacrificed for our country. Now that I'm in a position to really make a difference, I will continue to make sure veterans get the services and benefits they deserve."

I like and support Senator Patty Murray. But I'm a Vet FIRST and a voter who campaigned for Democrats last year second. We must get behind Senators Murray, Mikulski and all their Congressional colleagues and support, push and keep their feet to the fire. These leaders laboring on our behalf have thoroughly embarrassed and humiliated  each and every citizen of this country when it comes to supporting the troops truthfully and with action.

 

For Immediate Release, Tuesday, February 20, 2007(Washington, D.C.) - Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, urging him to launch an Inspector General's investigation of the deplorable living conditions facing returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans at the Army's flagship military hospital, Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Isn't that nice?

The treatment of our injured returning Iraq veterans by the citizens of the United States of America is absolutely and unequivocally a profound embarrassment.  

Never mind that we are not individually guilty of direct behavioral mistreatment of this precious American blood. Most of us don't spit on our soldiers, give them the finger or call them war criminals. But civically speaking, we're as guilty as if we had.

Those annointed to take care of our returning veterans  vicariously for each of us - doing for us what we presumably would do if we were there greeting and treating each veteran in person - have shamed us.

 



Photo from  washingtonpost.com

Photos: The Wounded and Walter Reed
Five and a half years of sustained combat have transformed the venerable 113-acre Walter Reed Army Medical Center into a holding ground for physically and psychologically damaged outpatients.

I don't want to hear about the fact that staff at Walter Reed and the VA are overworked, not totally responsible and not the real culprits.

I know that and you know that. But we just don't ho-hum and walk away from a house fire because the tenants did not start the fire.

We put the damn thing out immediately - any way we can. And we don't care if the G-D landlord doesn't like it or not. He's hurting our national community. We'll put out the fire as quick as we can, then we'll go take it up with the landlord and make him pay.



As soon as I heard this story, I looked up our two Senators to see ever either or both served on Senate committees connected to veterans. I found and I read ... and remembered when Patty was pulling out all stops in her campaign against Nethercut.

I remember Patty and an array of Democratic Senators including those who consider themselves presidential material all talking the talk but walking the slow walk when it comes to applying a compress to our national bleeding.  

Democrat or Republican, I don't care who, but DON'T send a staffer down to Walter Reed to eyeball anything ... go down there YOURSELF - right now!

And don't insult our sense of urgency any further.  Now is not the time to listen to Democratic Committee chairpersons and senior members blab about sending staffers out to inspect the damage so they can propose legislation to "prevent such a thing from happening again."

What a crock .... what a cliche .... what a political philosophy that even now transparently reveals an inability to take a firm stand. That's why troops are still over there in harms way, living, surviving, dying or returning half of what they were when they left. Nobody took a firm stand and everybody pretended that it is a wise thing to  support keeping the troops there "cause we broke it and own it."

Nonsense ... we broke it when Iraqis didn't want us to break it. We keep trying to super glue the pieces back together and breaking more Iraqi things in the process.

They just want us to leave.

We need to leave.

But like a mean and clumsy drunk trying to make things right while still drunk, we're only making it worse.

And don't let any Senator, Representative or PR hack tell you otherwise.

In recent years Republican senators and representatives and a few irresponsible Lieberman Democrats have shamed every American citizen regarding the War, the Surge and really truly caring about what happens to our Active Service and Veteran soldiers.

Remember in Planet of the Apes when the gorillas in charge have Charlton Heston in a cage and are hosing the hell out of him.

He shouts, "IT'S A MADHOUSE!"

Well, welcome to our flight over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Note how currently Senator McCain has become a national Veteran embarrassment, shamefully toadying to the religious right and attempting to say whatever it takes to get the lame-duck republican machine behind his efforts to take Dubya's place.

Note how there is no high-falutin foreign policy or statesmanlike-wisdom that justifies the nation's amateur strategists' continually pouring American bodies into the meat grinder that has become the worst American foreign policy and military blunder in history.

Note that Democracy Now interviewed the Iraqi who leaked the Oil Plan and that interview is worth reading or listening to so you can hear a knowledgeable Iraqi confirm our worst fears about losing loved ones over oil.

Note that Stan Goff wrote two blazing op-ed a few weeks ago about that surge and what is behind it.

Note that today Condoleeza Rice sounded like a first-year-out-of-diplomacy-graduate-school debutante giving an incredibly light-weight performance as she closed out her Israel visit with meaningless Republican foreign policy blather.

Note that a Federal appeals court re-affirmed last year's traitorous Republican legislation denying habeas corpus.

Note that Dick Cheney is in Japan presumably acting on behalf of America's foreign policy interests and soldiers, trying to drum up more foreign troops into Iraq. But he isn't going to talk to the Japan Foreign Minister who called the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq a mistake.

Note how those who got us into this mess are absolutely diplomatic, political and governing amateurs; absolutely nuts and in immediate need of neutering.

Is there ANYBODY responsible holding the reins of government in any branch?

Would someone please step forward - and if you can do nothing more - piss on the flames?


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger
Topic: Take Care of Them
Washington newspaper account of local Army Sgt wounded
 
Hi Friends,
 
In Washington state, the newspaper in Vancouver, WA (The Columbian) published the below article on Dec 26, 2005.  The story of a local wounded soldier, Army Sgt Brian Radke.  
 
It is personal for us in that the father of the wounded soldier, Dave Radke, was the Administrator of the Community Services Office (Dept of Social and Health Services) in Vancouver where both Arthur and I were employed and met each other.
 
Note: This family is not connected to MFSO in any way.
 
Since then, Arthur and I have gone on to transfer to other CSOs across the state until we wound up in the current CSO in South Bend, WA.  I left state service shortly after the invasion in Iraq to give more full time attention to my daughter and her 3 children (my grandchildren) when her husband deployed to Iraq and to give more full time attention to giving voice to bringing the troops home.  Arthur stayed on cause..well, ya know, someone in the family has to have earning power.
 
When this article came to our attention it was significant for not only the personal connection to the soldier's father, and that Sgt Brian Radke is about same age as our 2 Iraq veterans, but also because it is a comprehensive, descriptive article of a Washington army Sgt's injury experience.
 
Our Washington newspapers run coverage on first hand accounts in quite different ways, and what is striking about the tone of this article is that it avoids pro/anti and partisan messages to focus on real first hand experience, keeping attention on the soldier; on the troops; on the real need to take care of them when they get home; on the potential longevity of recovery from all the wounds physical and less visible.  
 
And as secondary is the courage it takes the military families to persevere in the life-changing  aftermath  of loved ones deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
I phoned the Radke household in Vancouver and spoke to Brian's parents, Dave and Lynne Radke to offer our empathy and  in common experiences with deployed loved ones.  I wanted to obtain Dave's permission to share the article amongst my own networking and affiliations and explained a bit about my affiliations and activities.   
 
I do not wish to disrespect the troops or their families and felt I needed permission before passing this article along to my networking.   The Radke's have stature in their community in Vancouver, WA as well as across the state and are well-respected, which makes the tone of the article all the more significant to me. 
 
They are not to my knowledge affiliated with any of our military family and veteran coalitions, which makes it all the more powerful as they are a military family speaking their own experience and truth independently.
 
Warning though, there are sections of the article which are graphicly descriptive of injuries and recuperation in Walter Reed.   Of note, Sgt Brian Radke has been visited by Congressman Murtha, and the article speaks some to Murtha's reaction and action;  SOD Rumsfeld, and the article speaks some about Brian's reactions to the Rumsfeld visit.  
 
A couple days after the Rumsfeld visit, in a ceremony at nation's capital Senator McCain pinned purple heart  to Sgt Brian Radke. 

Link to article;  'Trying to Heal'.    It is copyrighted so I'm reluctant to print it out for distribution.  


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Saturday, 18 February 2006

Now Playing: Arthur Ruger
Topic: Take Care of Them

Why the Depleted uranium study on behalf of the WA Natl Guard is important

I want to follow up on Lietta's recent article Depleted uranium study WA Natl Guard IS funded! Tx Sen Doumit

Led by Senator Mark Doumit and the Senate's Ways and Means Committee, Washington State has a chance to act in a profoundly wise manner. They will join other wise legislators across the country who have not been fooled by Pentagon's and Republican adminisration's shush-now pooh-poohing of the serious, tragic and potentially calamitous medical /financial impact of the use of depleted uranium in American weaponry in Iraq and the Middle East.

Earlier last year, the Connecticut House voted 144-0 to approve the kind of legislation Doumit and company gave life to and moved closer to the Governor's desk for signature.

Depleted Uranium is not a figmentary notion in the minds of conspiracy theorists - the sort of people easily dismissed and discredited by political manipulators and suppressed by Pentagon authorities.

More and more attention is drawn to this issue requiring that more and more authorities address the issue; a  situation that itself debunks the old DU-debunking in the early years of the war.

Bored on a Saturday moving into the afternoon, out of curiosity I googled "depleted uranium victims" and rather than click "web" on Google, I clicked "images."

What came up included victim pictures of greater tragedy and criminality than anything we've seen in the original and now recent 2nd issuances of photos from Abu Ghraib.

These D.U. pictures are so numerous, one can only conclude the legitimacy of the problem or fall back on a stubborn insistence that camera-clickers from all over the world have conspired to attempt the most massive and hideous fraud ever perpetrated.

Denying and refusing to believe the D.U. tragedy will eventually be tantamount to denying the Holocaust.

After seeing those pictures, I again googled "depleted uranium" and clicked on "web" to see how easily one can become informed about whether or not our legislature is wasting time by looking into DU effects on our National Guard and the regular military members who reside in this state.

Well, I'll tell ya ... Our legislators are not wasting time. Any who try to diminish the effort or its importance have been just plain been lazy ... too lazy to even Google.

 

Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst, current events observer, Internet columnist and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel now published by Authorhouse.com.

His articles appear regularly at his blog, Valenzuela's Veritas and at Information Clearing House as well as at other alternative news websites from around the globe.

The following are excerpts from his lengthy article, The  Killing Fields: Ghosts of the Walking Dead.

Lengthy yes, but - I promise you - an article worth reading in its entirety.

 

The Killing Fields

Meanwhile, all around Iraq and its cities a clandestine yet deadly killer lurks, invisible and unseen, devastating in its capacity to destroy human DNA, a silent death sentence that has and will befall hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of unsuspecting human beings, both Iraqi and American.

This killer festers in the air, water, food supply, vegetation and ground, infiltrating the porous bodies of human beings, cementing itself for life.

It lingers on streets and rivers and buildings and homes, carried by wind and rain and through the daily weather patterns of Mesopotamia.

... Depleted uranium is a silent mass murderer, a clandestine nuclear bomb whose mushroom cloud is never seen exploding, yet the radiation and heavy metals excreted from the weapons it envelopes when they strike their target, the heat evaporating uranium particulates into the air, become airborne contagions that latch onto our carbon and organic bodies.

It attacks our organs and our bones, our nerves and blood, mutating our DNA genetic sequence, destroying our immune systems, penetrating our reproductive systems and causing various terminal cancers.

... Depleted uranium used fifteen years ago is now being felt where American ordnance was dropped from the sky above, as lands, food supply, water and air once contaminated, inhaled and ingested release the WMD lingering in their midst.

Child deformities, stillbirths, mutated fetuses, miscarriages and birth defects have been springing up for quite some time now, as the DU embedded in the sperm and eggs of parents transfers over to the embryo.

The mutations taking place, along with the deformities now apparent yet hardly ever seen in human society, are gross distortions of human normalcy, creating beings the likes of which have never been seen before. The photos of what DU can do to newborn babies and fetuses are available on the Internet.

Entire regions, towns and neighborhoods are experiencing clusters of these mutations in their newly born babies, with doctors unable to explain the sudden rise in defects and deformities that did not exist previously.

... Iraq has been transformed into a vast killing field, a wasteland overrun by the remnants of America's silent WMD, a cheap and money saving weapon...

... Already, 11,000 American soldiers, veterans of the first Gulf War, have died thanks to Gulf War Syndrome, cancer and disease. Over 350,000 veterans, out of 700,000 who served, have asked for serious disability, most of these veterans being in their late twenties and early thirties, in the prime of their lives, cleared as healthy before the war in military conducted medical physicals.

Depleted Uranium is the most likely culprit, as many more get diagnosed with terminal diseases and illnesses every year. Many veterans of Gulf War One and now the Iraq/Bush War have themselves been giving birth to deformed and defective children, much like their Iraqi counterparts.

Depleted Uranium, it seems, does not discriminate nor does it need a passport to infect human beings. It has been imported into America by our returning soldiers, a great percentage of which most likely have remnants of depleted uranium buried deep inside them.

How many American veterans of Gulf War One and the Iraq/Bush War will in the next few decades succumb to cancer or destroyed immune systems? How many of their children will be born like those in Iraq, unable to live more than a few days or months because their bodies are infested with DU, their appearance no longer presenting the appearance of a human child?

It is estimated that 40,000 to 80,000 more veterans will die in the next twenty to thirty years as the effects of DU run their course. How many more will produce offspring with genetic birth defects, gross mutations of fetuses, miscarriages and stillborns?

... In their whispered plea can we also see what might happen to tens of thousands of our own men and women, themselves hosts carrying the demons of the Iraqi Killing Fields back home.

Is the price of what America has done in our name worth our silence and indifference?

So what happens when we question the leaders who have done this on our behalf and in our name?

Valenzuela is a gifted writer who captures passion in his words and expresses that passion well.

To supplement Valensuela's thoughts, I recommend the following as well.

Depleted Uranium - A Hidden Looming Worldwide Calamity
found at Global Research.CA

These are what we ought to be sharing with our legislators.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST

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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