Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Real Support of the Troops Now Being Tested

Our troops go to war, accompanied by impassioned speeches warning of the dangers to our existence. But as in previous wars, most of those troops eventually come home - and they become veterans, veterans who often have to fight again, but this time to get deserved medical and psychological care for disabling and lifetime lasting effects from combat.

Vietnam became the awakening for the true extent of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD didn't have a clinical name after WWII, other than cliches like 'shell shock', and as reported in Tom Brokaw's books, most veterans came home and didn't want to talk about the war. So the PTSD effects on tens of thousands got buried. Vietnam War veterans came home to a country that wanted to forget about that war too for other reasons. But through the efforts of many of these veterans and their families and friends, first the physical effects of Agent Orange were fought (and are still being fought), and then PTSD began to be recognized as affecting a huge percentage of Vietnam vets who have documented its effects and pushed Congress for support.

As a result of the Iraq war, PTSD is estimated to affect at least half of the returning troops. And now inexplicably, the VA is trying to renege on PTSD benefits already promised to over 72,000 returning diagnosed veterans. The VA's excuse? These soldiers were 'misclassified' - but the reality is the VA is looking to free up money because Congress is aiming to cut $600 million from veterans' support this year. With an estimated 1 million troops who will have fought in Iraq - whenever it ends - how many of them will be stripped of needed help? This time instead of Agent Orange and PTSD, it's depleted uranium and PTSD.

So, those of you who really think you are supporting the troops, wake up. Those troops become veterans and they become leading targets for nonsupport from our federal bureaucracy. It's happening again.

For those veterans looking for some very good information on PTSD (or Agent Orange), go the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)website. The VVA is the only national Vietnam veterans organization congressionally chartered and exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families, and 30 years later they are still fighting to get help.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Courage Under Fire

You probably won't get this easily in the news unless you watch C-SPAN late, but you may have previously heard about several military officers who had worked in a special unit in an intelligence agency before 911. They had blown the whistle saying info was available on the key bad guy prior to 911 - which could have prevented the whole thing. But by telling the truth, their lives have been made miserable by intel bureaucrats, with trumped up UCMJ charges to shut them up - until some members of Congress stepped in today. This one is about to hit the fan, but I'm glad someone is sticking up for these guys who risked a lot to tell the truth.

That someone is Rep. Curt Weldon (R) PA who is risking his own skin with the administration because it's the right thing to do. We'll see what happens.

UPDATE: Click here for Rep. Weldon's remarks in the House yesterday.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Military Roles Become Increasingly Confused and Misused - Navy Training Troops for Ground Combat

As the administration runs out of options to recruit needed ground Army and Marine troops in Iraq and elsewhere, core competencies are being being sacrificed to support failed foreign policy.

Less formidable than SEAL commandos but more fierce than average swabbies, the hybrid sailor-soldiers would not elbow out Marines, said Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chief of naval operations. Marines are the Navy’s traditional combat troops, and blurring roles can be a touchy business in the rivalry-prone military.

Last week at a Pentagon news conference, Mullen told reporters that the expeditionary force is still just a “concept ” but that his counterpart with the Marines – Gen. Michael W. Hagee – has questioned him repeatedly about its purpose.

“Gen. Hagee tells me he gets asked about it everywhere he goes by his Marines,” Mullen said.

Mullen stressed that the new force would not compete with the Marines but complement them.

“The Marines need not be overly concerned about the Navy displacing the Marine Corps mission,” Mullen said. “That is not the intent.”

But demands in Iraq and Afghanistan have stretched the Marines thin, even as the Navy’s “brown water” operations are expected to increase – missions that call for close contact with hostile coastlines.

Under the blueprint announced in July, a number of sailors would “harden up” to fill the Marine void. The original concept called for a battalion-size force, or 600 to 800 sailors, but planners have been hammering out the nuts and bolts for months, and the reality could be much different. Final plans are expected to be released this month. No one at Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk would speak on the record about combat sailors.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Vets Are Getting Lost in the Political Rhetoric

While vets get tossed around as political footballs, some are trying to get the public to understand that it's not enough to support the troops, if that means abandoning them after their return.

When are we going to 'get it'? We've got our priorities screwed up. When you get down to it, any veteran ought to be able to go into any medical facility and get the help they need, on a priority basis. And it shouldn't stop there. Not one of them should be homeless. Sound too 'socialistic'? I don't think so, compared to the hypocritical head-in-the-sand attitudes we now subject our veterans to. We ask our sons and daughters to go to war (yes they are currently volunteers), but they return to an ever-widening cycle of neglect - half a million of them are on the streets in any given year.

And please don't write to tell me the Clinton administration didn't do anything significant to help veterans in an effort to absolve those who could do something about it now, beginning with the president. The point is - just do it.

One of the many efforts to raise visibility is worth knowing about:

Just like with other modern documentaries, "A Grateful Nation" attempts to show in vivid, raw imagery the life our country provides returning heroes. Stereotypes and ignorance are not easily combated, but it is possible.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

NCHV Helps Veterans on the Street

It has been estimated that approximately 200,000 veterans may be homeless on any given night, and twice that number may be homeless during the course of a year. Approximately one-third of homeless adult males and nearly one-quarter of homeless adults have served in the armed forces.

Check out the National Coalition of Homeless Veterans' mission statement & website. Here is an organization with an 'exit strategy'. Their goal is to be out of business someday soon. Maybe you can help them do so.

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link

Monday, October 03, 2005

Iraq Veterans Run for Office to Change U.S. Policy

Amid the fighting in Iraq, a private questioned then-Capt. Patrick Murphy about why U.S. forces were in the Persian Gulf nation and was told it didn't matter, there was a job to do and just try to return home safely.

"That wasn't the time to question our government," Murphy recalled.

Now, however, Murphy and five other Democrats are asking the questions about President Bush's policies in Iraq as part of their broader campaigns to win congressional seats in next year's elections.

Familiar with the horrors of war, the six Democrats in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia say they are eminently qualified to pose the tough questions. Their reservations mirror public opinion, with an increasing number of Americans expressing concerns about the mission and favoring a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The most recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll showed only 37 percent of Americans approve of Bush's handling of Iraq, with 62 percent disapproving.

This summer, Democrat Paul Hackett, an Iraq War veteran, nearly defeated Republican Jean Schmidt in a special election in an Ohio district considered a GOP stronghold. Hackett focused on his wartime experience and his opposition to Bush's policies.

"Some guys don't think it's time to question our government, but the fact is I love my country," said Murphy, 31, a lawyer who fought with the 82nd Airborne Division. "We need to have an exit strategy now."

Posted by a Vet -- -- permanent link