Military Families Speak Out Washington State Chapter

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Bring Them Home Now!

One of the features of military families in this war that differs from previous wars is that there are more young married soldiers.

Here are some statistics:

-- in Iraq war, soldiers often married, with children

-- 55% of military personnel are married. 56% of those married are between 22 and 29.

-- One million military children are under 11.

-- 40% are 5 or younger.

-- 63% of spouses work, including 87% of junior-enlisted spouses.

Source: Department of Defense and National Military Family Association.



Dissent is loyalty Robert Taft, the conservative Ohio senator who is a hero to many of today's conservatives, gave a speech at the Executive Club of Chicago in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

There are a number of paragraphs that are just grand, but here's the best one, which is worth quoting in full:

As a matter of general principle, I believe there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government

... too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think that it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism.

If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because
the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy,
and will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur.

Drink in those words.

That's not William Fulbright two years into the Vietnam War.

It's not Ted Kennedy last week.

It's Mr. Republican, speaking -- when? Not mid-1943, or even March 1942

Taft delivered this speech ... on December 19, 1941!

That's right: Twelve days after the worst attack on American soil in the country's history,

perhaps with bodies still floating in the harbor,

the leader of the congressional opposition said to the president, 'we will question, we will probe, we will debate.'

By Michael Tomasky,
The AMERICAN Prospect online


Order and send postcards to Congress - Fund our Troops, Defund the

Bring Them Home Now postage stamps


For more information see Appeal for Redress website.


For more information go to dvd 'The Ground Truth' website.


Some Past Campaigns - Washington state chapter MFSO members participation

2007

(photo - Daniel Ellsberg, Lt. Ehren Watada)

(photo - Organizing Team; Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter introduces the Panelists)

(photo - on the Panel - Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter listen to two days of testimony)

(photo - close up of Panelists Elizabeth Falzone - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA chapter and Rich Moniak - MFSO - Alaska chapter)

(photo - rRetired Diplomat Col. Ann Wright gives her testimony)

(photo - Organizing Team - Lietta Ruger - MFSO - WA chapter with retired Col. Ann Wright - Testifier)

(photo - Stacy Bannerma, wife of returning Iraq veteran - WA Natl Guard, gives testimony)

(photo - close up Stacy Bannerman, author of 'When The War Came Home' gives her testimony. Formerly MFSO - WA chapter. For more on Stacy, her book, media archives, see her website at www.stacybannerman.com)

(photo - IVAW veterans Geoffrey Millard and former Lt. Harvey Tharp give their testimony)

See website; 'Citizens' Hearing on Legality of U.S. Actions in Iraq';

Jan 20-21- 2007, Tacoma, WA.

A 2 day citizens' tribunal support action in defense of Lt. Ehren Watada court martial at Fort Lewis.

(Organizing Team from MFSO - WA chapter; Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan)

2006


(photo Lietta Ruger, MFSO- WA, in support Lt. Ehren Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Jenny Keesey, Judy Linehan, Lietta Ruger - from MFSO-WA in support of Lt. Ehren Watada June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Lietta Ruger, Judy Linehan, Jenny Keesey - from MFSO - WA chapter, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

(photo - Judy Linehan, MFSO - WA at support rally for Lt. Watada, June 2006, Tacoma, WA)

June 2006 ongoing through court martial Feb 2007

For more information, see 'Thank You Lt. Ehren Watada' website.


(photo - right is Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA; organizing team)

Representative Brian Baird, Washington state 3rd Congressional District, in blue shirt comes out to talk with MFSO members at 'Operation House Call')

'Operation House Call' June thru August 2006 in Washington DC.

MFSO members make individual calls on Senators and Representatives advocating to Bring Them Home Now.

For more information go to 'Operation House Call' website.

postcards sent to Congress - summer 2006, 'Operation House Call'


2005


(photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO-WA on central tour. Not pictured - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO -WA on northern tour)

Bring Them Home Now tour - Sept 1 thru Sept 25 2005. From Crawford, Texas to Washington DC. see Bring Them Home Now tour website


(photo - left Lietta Ruger, MFSO -WA with center Cindy Sheehan and right Juan Torres at Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey, Aug 9, 2005


2004

photos from Newshour with Jim Lehrer; segment 'Homefront Battles' aired Oct 2004.

Online video, audio and article still available at Newshour website. photo - Sue Niederer, MFSO. Her son U.S. Army 2nd Lt.Seth Dvorin, 24 yrs old was killed in Iraq Feb 3, 2004.

photo - Nancy Lessin, MFSO Co-Founder

photo - Lietta Ruger, MFSO - WA

photo - Stacy Bannerman, MFSO - WA


See at Seattle PI; List of casualties with Washington state ties

This is one of WA state casualties; Army Spc. Jonathan J. Santos, Whatcom County, Washington died Oct 15, 2004

Watch a slide show of family photos and listen to audio recordings of Army Cpl. Jonathan Santos' mother, brother and the woman who's documenting his life.

See the trailer for the documentary "The Corporal's Boots." (QuickTime 7 required).

A special thank you to mother, Doris Kent - GSFSO/ MFSO - WA for her generous sharing and contribution in speaking of her son's life and death in Iraq


Title 17 disclaimer In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
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mfso@mfso.org




Military Families Speak Out
is an organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military. We were formed in November of 2002 and have contacts with military families throughout the United States, and in other countries around the world.

As people with family members and loved ones in the military, we have both a special need and a unique role to play in speaking out against war in Iraq. It is our loved ones who are, or have been, or will be on the battlefront. It is our loved ones who are risking injury and death. It is our loved ones who are returning scarred from their experiences. It is our loved ones who will have to live with the injuries and deaths among innocent Iraqi civilians.

If you have family members or loved ones in the military and you are opposed to this war join us.

Send us an e-mail at
mfso@mfso.org
.
You can call us at 617-522-9323
or Send us mail at:
MFSO
P.O. Box 549
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

click here - MFSO Membership Form – to join Military Families Speak Out or

JOIN us by sending an e-mail to mfso@mfso.org.


MFSO - Become a Member

Membership in MFSO is open to anyone who has a family member or loved one serving, since August 2002, in any branch of our Armed Forces

* The Reserves

* The National Guard

* Returned from serving but still eligible for redeployment under stop loss.

There is no membership fee. Donations are welcome.

People who are not eligible for MFSO membership may join our Supporter Group. You are welcome to attend meetings that are open to the public, volunteer to help with event preparation and participate in our community actions and events. Supporters may purchase MFSO t-shirts and wear them with the "Proud Supporter of MFSO" button. Buttons may also be worn without the t-shirt.

Our Supporters provide emotional encouragement and physical help to our MFSO military families who are under extreme stress, especially if their loved one is in Iraq or Afghanistan

We welcome your involvement, please contact us.


click to see the list MFSO chapters other than Washington state forming around the country.


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into our 3rd year of speaking out
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9 Jul, 07 > 15 Jul, 07
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26 Feb, 07 > 4 Mar, 07
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12 Feb, 07 > 18 Feb, 07
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29 Jan, 07 > 4 Feb, 07
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4 Oct, 04 > 10 Oct, 04

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Now Playing: Jesse Archibald
Topic: Members Speak Out

not demonstrating the courage to stand up and stop the war the only realistic way Congress can

 

Dear MFSO Members,

 Today I called Nancy Pelosi and left a message with her staff member who answered the phone in her Washington D.C. office.  I was inspired to call by an e-mail from another peace activist group, CODE PINK.  The e-mail echoed my own feelings.    

 

In November, voters sent a resounding message to Congress about our feelings about this war.  We voted to have the Democrats take control so we could end this senseless war where we military families are the ones suffering the losses and casualties more than any other Americans.  

I told the staff member that I was deeply disappointed that Nancy Pelosi was not demonstrating the courage to stand up and stop the war the only realistic way Congress can:    by cutting the funding for all war efforts except those funds needed to bring our troops home safely NOW.

When I called Ms. Pelosi's office, I identified myself as a MFSO member and urged her to vote against funding the war, except for those funds to bring our troops safely home immediately, not sometime next year or the year after.

 I was rather dismayed to see the below headline today:

 "Clinton Sees Some Troops Staying in Iraq if She Is Elected"

  I will not be voting for Hilary Clinton!   When will our representatives get the message?  When will they have courage to take the step of cutting off funding to end this war?

 As a MFSO member, I have a deep respect for military families and understand what it is like to have a loved one in harm's way.  Our troops on the ground have done everything they have been ordered to and have shown tremendous courage.  It is their commanders at the highest level that have failed them.  

My heart goes out to those families that have been through multiple deployments.  My family will go through another deployment starting in January 08.  I do not know how I will get through it again.  I began to cope with the last deployment be becoming active in MFSO.

 Welcome new MFSO members!   We are here for you and would love to hear your stories and will respect your privacy.

 Each and every day, I like to think that I have taken some small step to end this war, even if it only means that I picked up the telephone or wrote a letter to my state representative.  

If anyone else feels like calling Nancy Pelosi and telling her how they feel about the Democrats lack of action, here is a paragraph pasted from the CODEPINK e-mail:

 Call 202-225-0100 for her office in DC.and ask for Mike Sheehy, or call (415)-556-4862 for her San Francisco office and ask for Dan Bernal. Tell them that the Speaker should cut off all funds for the war, or at the very least allow a vote on Cong. Barbara Lee's amendment to only use the funds for a safe withdrawal of the U.S. troops by the end of the year. And don't allow Bush to attack Iran! Don't forget to also call your own Representative to tell him or her to Vote NO on the supplemental appropriations. The Congressional switchboard can be reached at 888.851.1879.


 Sincerely,
 Jessie Archibald


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

So Congress will you Fund or De-Fund the Iraq War? Supplemental Appropriations Bill Begins Today

When you phone today to discuss and urge our Representative Congress to action; below is a list of some of the concerns you are likely to hear from the Staffers who will likely be taking your phone calls.

Please call the Capitol switchboard (ask for the office of your Representative) at  800-828-0498, 800-459-1887 or 800-614-2803 as often as you can between now and when they vote on the House Supplemental Appropriations bill next week. Tell your Congressional Representative about your personal connection to this war, and how important it is that they act now to use their 'power of the purse' to end the funding that will allow this unjustifiable war to continue.

The House Supplemental Appropriations Bill: "U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act" . The below talking points cover why Military Families Speak Out is urging a "No" vote on this bill:

read more below the fold

 

  • President Bush submitted his supplemental budget request to Congress in February, 2007 for approximately $93 billion to continue the war in Iraq.

     

  • The House Leadership, headed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, crafted this supplemental budget request into a funding bill that will most likely be voted on in the Defense Appropriations Committee on Thursday, March 15 and come before the full House of Representatives sometime during the week of March 19. March 19 th is the 4 th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq

     

  • The House Supplemental Appropriations Bill as written would give funds to President Bush to continue the war in Iraq.

     

  • The House Leadership is trying to get all Members of Congress who oppose the war in Iraq to support this House Supplemental Appropriations Bill, which they named the "U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act". They claim it has the following provisions which are supposed to support our troops and bring about the end of the war in Iraq, but their claims are not supported by the facts:

     

Claim: Troop Readiness Requirements: no funds can be appropriated to deploy any unit of the Armed Forces to Iraq unless the unit is fully trained, equipped and "mission capable"
Reality: The bill includes a provision that allows the President to waive troop readiness requirements

Claim: No Extended Deployments: no funds can be appropriated for extending the deployment of the Army, National Guard or Reserves beyond a 365-day deployment, or a Marine unit beyond a 210-day deployment
Reality: The bill includes a provision that allows the President to waive the prohibition on extended deployments

Claim: Rest Period Between Deployments: no funds can be appropriated for deploying any Army unit that has been deployed within the previous 365 consecutive days, or an Marine unit that has been deployed within the previous 210 consecutive days
Reality: The bill includes a provision that allows the President to waive the specified rest periods between deployments

Claim: Requirements for Iraqi Government Progress: if the Iraqi government isn't making substantial progress by October 1, 2007 and again by March 1,2008 in making the country secure, democratic and reducing sectarian violence, the Secretary of Defense shall commence the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq within 180 days.
Reality: The bill allows the President to unilaterally certify "Iraqi Government Progress"

Claim: Date Certain for U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq: combat troops out of Iraq by August, 2008 at the latest
Reality: With three U.S troops dying each day the war continues, August, 2008 is not an acceptable deadline for withdrawal of US troops. It is not bringing our troops home now. Furthermore, the bill allows U.S. troops to remain in Iraq after the August, 2008 withdrawal date if they are "engaging in targeted special actions limited in duration and scope to killing or capturing members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations with global reach" [note: the
terms "limited in duration and scope" are undefined in the bill]; and/or if they are "training members of the Iraqi Security Forces". This provision could be used to keep tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq for years
to come.

 

  • The House Supplemental Appropriations bill as written would allow thousands of additional US troops and untold numbers of Iraqis to die before the U.S. occupation of Iraq is ended.

     

  • The Supplemental Appropriations bill as written is really about positioning the Democrats for the 2008 election, not about bringing our troops home quickly and safely.

     

  • It is wonderful that the House Leadership is putting more funds than the President asked for, specifically targeted toward military and Veteran's health care. However, by providing the funds to continue the war in Iraq, they are ensuring that there will be thousands more troops whose lives will be damaged or destroyed, who will be wounded, who will return with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, who will be at risk of long-term health problems from exposure to Depleted Uranium.

     

  • It appears that many in Congress, including self-described "anti-war" Members of Congress, feel the need to vote for the House Supplemental Appropriations bill in order to deflect charges from Vice President Dick Cheney and others that they are not "supporting the troops". These Members of Congress seem more afraid of a newspaper headline than they are about the reality that three U.S. troops and countless Iraqi children, women and men are dying each day this war continues.

     

  • As military and Gold Star families, no one is more concerned about the safety and well-being of our troops than we are. It has been our sons, daughters, husbands,wives, brothers, sisters, fiancés, partners, grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews,mothers and fathers on the front lines of this war; our loved ones who have and are paying the price for it.

     

  • We know the President's supplemental budget request is not about providing funding for our troops - he is seeking funding to continue this war that is so damaging to our loved ones and all of our troops.

     

  • The most important thing Members of Congress can do to protect those who swore an oath to protect us all, is to vote against the House Supplemental Appropriations bill that will provide President Bush with funding to continue the war in Iraq.

     

  • As military families, we have learned that there are funds available to bring our troops out quickly and safely. If more is needed, funds from the Department of Defense budget could be re-programmed for this purpose.

     

  • Congress needs to understand that by continuing to fund this war, and leaving our loved ones in Iraq, they are abandoning them.

     

  • Congress can not both oppose and fund this war.

     

  • Members of Congress may be afraid for their political futures, and afraid of being "swift-boated" if they were to vote to de-fund the war. We are afraid for the lives of our loved ones. We are afraid that if we are lucky enough to get our loved ones home, they will return with wounds both physical and psychological. We are afraid that our loved ones who return will never be the loved ones we knew before they deployed.

     

  • The Constitution gave Congress the `power of the purse' for a reason. The unjustifiable war in Iraq is just such a reason. President Bush is not going to end this war. It's up to Congress to bring this misbegotten war to an end.

     

  • It is time for Members of Congress to support our troops by voting against the funds that allow this war to continue.

     

  • To Members of Congress we say: if you vote to continue funding the war in Iraq, it will no longer be President Bush's war. It will be yours. If you fund it, you've bought it and you own it. And we will remember.

     

  • We are asking Congress now to show the courage and leadership that our loved ones have shown when they signed up to defend the Constitution of the United States.

     

  • Ending this war is the right thing to do. And Congress can make this happen. We call on Congress now -- Don't abandon our troops! De-fund this war!

     

Note: Information about the "Barbara Lee Amendment": Congresswoman Barbara Lee has put forward an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriation bill that would limit the use of the appropriated funds to spending for a fully-funded safe and orderly withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. It would further set a firm deadline for withdrawal of December 31, 2007. As we write these MFSO Talking Points, there is uncertainty about whether or not Congresswoman Lee's amendment to the House Supplemental Appropriations bill will be allowed to be put forward in the House Appropriations Committee deliberation of the measure on Thursday, March 15 on the House floor when the measure comes to the full House of Representatives next week (the week of March 19).

While it would be wonderful to have this amendment to the House Appropriatons bill be introduced, accepted and become part of the bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, there is little chance of this happening. Therefore, the core message Members of Congress need to hear now is: Support our troops, de-fund the war, and vote against any funds for continuing the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PDT
Saturday, 10 March 2007

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

Iraq Messages this week - a General, A Military Mom, A Congressman, A Military Wife, A Journalist...

My mind is swimming today with the differences in messages and approaches of so many earnest people endeavoring to try to end Iraq war.

  • Retired Major General Paul D Eaton, Fox Island, WA, speaks from Seattle last night on Real Time with Bill Maher about conditions of Walter Reed being the 'tip of the iceberg';
  • Representative David Obey (D- WS) recorded on video Thursday losing patience with questions from Tina Richards, mother to Cpl Cloy Richards, returning Iraq Marine veteran, twice deployed to Iraq, soon to deploy for third time. MSN, Chris Matthews interviews Tina Richards Thursday on Hardball.
  •  Bob Woodruff, injured in IED explosion ABC journalist 'To Iraq and Back' and his wife are interviewed Friday on MSN Hardball with Chris Matthews.
  • Two of the arrested Port of Tacoma protesters are inteviewed on Fox News Hannity and Colmes.
  • Op-ed published this week by a Washington based military wife, Stacy Bannerman married to WA Natl Guardsman, himself a returning Iraq veteran. Stacy tells of the casualty of marriages in military families faced with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, including her own.  
Different kinds of messages from  different military-connected people with 'skin in the game' - a phrase for being in Iraq or having loved ones in Iraq. Different routes up the same mountain. But are the roads overlapping, perhaps tangling up the effort and the message - are some routes leading to dead ends?  

-- video - HBO - Real Time, Bill Maher. Retired Major General, Paul D. Eaton, Fox Island, WA, speaks on the conditions of Walter Reed as the 'tip of the iceberg'. Paul Eaton was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004. He is speaking to Bill Maher via satellite with the Space Needle and Seattle skyline in the background.  He says an interesting thing  on the Real Time show last night and I have to admit, it took me by surprise, so when Bill Maher repeated it, I knew I had heard what I thought I heard.  Quoting excerpt of end of one of his sentences

'arrival of Democratic controlled Congress, Thank God, 7 November'.
  Bill Maher responds that it is not often you hear military people say arrival of the Democrats and Thank God in the same sentence.

See retired Major General, Paul Eaton, Fox Island, WA companion piece, NY Times Op-Ed, 'Casualties of the Budget Wars' published this week. You may recall also as reported by NY Times last year in April 2006, Paul Eaton was among the six Generals calling for Rumsfeld resignation - link .

-- link video - MSN - Hardball,Chris Matthews.  Tina Richards, mother of Iraq veteran Marine son, twice deployed and will deploy third time March this year. Her encounter with Representative David Obey (D- WS). Tina was representing Grassroots Missouri on Hardball yesterday.  She is also a member of Military Families Speak Out, although it sounds like she is taking action as an independent military family on behalf of her son's upcoming third deployment to Iraq.  

-- link video -  MSN - Hardball, Chris Matthews. Bob Woodruff and his wife interviewed on Bob's recovery from Brain Trauma Injury. Bob Woodruff ABC journalist who was severely wounded Jan 2006 in IED explosion while covering Iraq. (My note - reference another Washblog story I wrote on Bob Woodruff in the special ,'To Iraq and Back' )

-- link video - Fox News - Hannity and Colmes.  Two arrested at Port of Tacoma protesting the loading and shipping of Stryker equipment destined for Iraq. See Noemie story at Washblog as she endeavors to explore the Port of Tacoma protests.  

-- An op- ed by a published auther and military wife of Washington state National Guardsman, Stacy Bannerman wrote an op-ed March 7, courageously sharing with the public the breakdown of her marriage as a direct result, she says, of war in Iraq. Link 60,000 Marriages Broken by Iraq, Including Mine, read through the comments and you can feel the tone of empathy (or lack of empathy) which military families generally encounter. Some of the comments are the usual of what we as military families have been hearing for the past four years now (and we heard it in Vietnam era too), but some of the comments are from peace/activist people who can be equally harsh in their comments. (I find this happens as well in the comments to Daily Kos stories)

She was prompted by the comments to write another op-ed, also published at Alternet March 10, 2007  link 'Volunteer Soldiers Devastated by Iraq Weren't Asking for It'.   Stacy phoned me this week to pass along a request she had received for military family to speak at a Seattle area church for 4th anniversary event.  She passed it along to me for consideration of Military Families Speak Out - WA chapter to determine if one of our member families was willing to speak.  

That led me to share some thoughts with Stacy about how I am feeling more uncomfortable with  the relationship of military families and the  peace/activist movement/communities.  As I explained to her,  I can't tell if my growing discomfort, some of what has felt like exploitive experiences, is coloring my perspective.  I am disinclined to want to participate in any of the 4th anniversary acknowledgement events being planned in Washington this month.  I'm not so sure that the message I carry is best represented within the context of the planned events. I'm not sure it doesn't feel a bit like being a willing mouthpiece puppet for messaging that does not entirely reflect my own thoughts and message.

Sometimes, I shared with her, it feels like I am pressed hard from both sides - the right wingers rhetoric, and the peace/activist movement rhetoric. She, a long time peace activist, shared with me that until she herself became a military wife, she would have had a hard time understanding the viewpoint of military culture.  It helped me to hear her say that, because it reminds me to continue to try to be patient and not grow impatient at what feels like the disconnect I sometimes feel with the peace/activist communities.  

 Of late, I'm not liking the direction of what I'm hearing from some peace/activists who point the finger at the soliders who do deploy.  It sounds a lot like the residue of Vietnam to me - blaming the soldiers for a) going,  b) for not putting down their weapons, c) for not refusing to go in the first place.   I have actually heard someone say to me  when I asked what you would have the soldiers already in Iraq do and the response was that they should put down their weapons.  "While they are in Iraq," I asked, "they should put down their weapons?"  I'd say there is a real disconnect happening that is unrealistic in this kind of discourse.

I received a phone call this week from a woman who invited me to show my oil paintings on an art show offered by Comcast TV channel in Puyallup. She came across one of my oil paintings on our MFSO chapter website .  (That is the result of the pride of my husband who felt a photo of one of my oil paintings should be part of my profile info).  As I explored this with her, confused because of the contact via MFSO website, she shared with me that her husband is a Vietnam veteran, who experienced the homecoming of having red paint poured on him and being spit upon by the peaceniks there to greet him.  

This was astonishing to me because I know there is a published book, Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam, indicating that this spitting on the returning Vietnam veterans never happened, is a myth, and can't be validated by first hand accounts.  I asked her if she knew of this book.  She did not, but she says her husband knows his own experience, and he might like to know about this book as he could offer direct first hand experience.  He was not a protesting anti-war veteran. I know many Vietnam veterans reference the 'spit upon' as symbolic and indicative of how they were welcomed home as opposed to actual first hand experience.  But as I shared with her, I well remember my own experience then, and the climate was not welcoming or conducive to my sharing that my husband was a returning veteran from Vietnam.  We expected an unwelcome response so we shut it down in public venues and talked about it only among some of our friends - friends from high school who found themselves in Vietnam at the same time.

If the leftover ideals of the 60s protesting era are being revived and used again as rhetoric and talking points among peace/activist communities and directed at soldiers and military families,  then I contend this is a disservice to those of us contending daily with this war.  I'd like to think it is the few and not the general tone of the peace/activist communities, but my experiences tell me otherwise.      

I don't know what the best course is to trying to end this war and getting our troops home, all the while ensuring they are not without the equipment they need while they are in Iraq; not to mention the medical services they will need, likely long term.  A hard-wired mantra for me is that we (America) don't abandon our troops in the field and leave them with a shortfall of funding which translates to equipment and medical care. This is very real for me.

Another hard wired mantra for me is the experience of Vietnam. I'm still learning nuances - 35 years later - of what went into that era and what brought that war to an end, even though I actually lived in that time as a military wife. It doesn't seem to be any more clear cut now than it was then.  

There are those who say it took the soldiers themselves protesting to bring it to an end (do see the dvd Sir, No Sir).  There are those who say it was the massive protests, the college students, the violence against the protesters (ie, Kent State) and that without the 'movement' in place, the soldiers would not have had the support in place to launch their own protests.  There are those who say it took politicians umpteen tries politically to bring it to a close; that the work of politics is a slow moving mechanism - taking years and years sometimes.  

As near as I can tell, the stew of ingredients that finally brought Vietnam war to a close was a combination of many social, political, economic elements.  It took a combination of ongoing public protests, increasing pressure on Congress, having the soldiers themselves refuse to continue to participate in Vietman war, the condition of the 'draft' = widely sweeping to affect all draft age males pressing them into involuntary military deployments, and the element of the 'unknown' as it was not expected that soldiers would find so many ways to refuse to participate.

What is different this time with Iraq is that this Administration - please don't forget this fact - was also there at the time of Vietnam.    Rumsfeld, Cheney, George W. Bush, Wolfowitz, Perle, all had direct experience of the political climate of Vietnam. I would say they learned how  to 'contain' the imaging, message, and narrative we are given about Iraq from what they learned about Vietnam.  I would offer as well that there continues to be the kaleidoscope of the techniques of misdirection that keeps many of us off center and sometimes without firm ground as we try to dissect what is really going on.  

Is Jack Murtha on track then?  He has a strategy of redeploying the troops out of Iraq and leaving some of the troops on the horizon.  How about his recent suggestions to ensure troops are given opportunities of full training, recuperative one year between deployments as a kind of back door approach to stemming the flow of 'volunteer' troops who are kept in combat via back door draft of stop loss extended deployments?

Is what Representative Dave Obey (D- WS)shared with Tina Richards on the mark?  Is it accurate that Democratic party cannot get the required 233 votes on their proposed non-binding Resolutions?  Is it true that even should they be able to get Resolution passed it could be vetoed by President?  Is it true that the appropriation funding is needed to provide for the already deployed troops, get them fully back home safely and provide for their medical care?  Is there a political way in which the Iraq war can be made to be an illegal war and therfore illegal to fund, as Rep. Obey seemed to suggest in the exchange with mother, Tina Richards?  

Or is it true what Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) indicates as enough funding already in the pipeline to safely bring the troops home now, and that additional funding is not necessary to get them home, rather that additional funding perpetuates and continues the war in Iraq?   That a vote now not to fund is not a vote against the troops and will not impede getting them home safely; will not abandon them in the field.

Is the Democratic party in the majority now working on a plan or several plans to actually find an effective way to end the war in Iraq, which they know is an immoral and probably an illegal war?  

What about the voices and messages, ie, General Wesley Clark, that express grave concerns about the U.S. military action expanding to Iran?

I'm not at all sure on this fourth anniversary of the Iraq war what message I want to be sending and how to best symbolize and represent that message.  
I want the politicians to do their jobs and bring this war to an end yesterday. I want to give them the space they need to do their jobs but each day  of delay represents so so many deaths. A sense of urgency presses military families as their loved ones deploy over and over again into an ill-defined mission.  When I speak of concern for our own loved ones and our troops, the focus is not limited strictly to our troops as that is too narrow - hundreds of Iraqis also are killed daily.  I think of another Washingtonian, Bert Sacks, of Seattle and his own individual courage in trying to help Iraqi children.

What of General Casy who seemed to be warning us all of the impending 'long war' against 'terrorism' in the Middle East?  When a military General says 'long war', my ears perk up and I ask myself if I am hearing the nuanced statement to the public of a General's  assessment that this will be a decades-long war.  Where will the troops come from to continue a decades long war with recruitment numbers down and fewer willing to enlist in what they have come to recognize as a questionable war?  Will the two in my family be serving deployment after deployment over the next decade?  How is this going to impact their wives and children?  

How can the former code of the military that goes down through the generations telling the new crop of soldiers and their families to 'suck it up' possibly relate to the experience of so many repeat deployments?  That is not in their experience, so how can they know to give advice of that nature?  It is the new crop that have the message in this war, and we aren't yet hearing from them.  

We hear from some, those who find peace/activist communities that give them a platform to be heard.  I rather think though that there are many more who are very perplexed, dissatisfied,confused and wanting to share their own message but not ready to swing that far away from their clan in speaking out quite so radically.  Often I ask myself, isn't there a kind of middle ground that permits one to have both conservative and liberal views - does it have to be one way or the other?  Where are those people, and where is their platform, what venues are provided for them?

Maybe it all flows together in ways I can no longer easily detect and maybe we all do get to the mountain top by different routes. Maybe there is room for all the divergent viewpoints, approaches, strategies and tactics.  Right now I'm having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees - I think - but I know my intentions are honorable.  Aren't they all - the intentions of all who take on this struggle?  


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Sunday, 18 March 2007 10:59 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
Friday, 2 March 2007

Now Playing: Arthu Ruger
Topic: Members Speak Out

Dang Fool Made Me Spill My Coffee

Lietta will have something to say about a friend of our, Joe Colgan, who wrote a great guest opinion The killing has got to stop published to the PI this morning.

But some guy named STEFF wrote the first comment to Joe's article and pissed me off. Now I've got to go to work mad.

Here's what I wrote in the PI:

 

I don't know who Steff is but the writing sure sounds like someone with a theory and not much real-time and real-place perspective.

Joe Colgan is a friend of mine and one who is writes from a place of knowing and feeling. He does not speak theoretically nor rant as Mr. Steff just did. Colgan is not alone.

What Joe Colgan has written has little to do with the Republican swagger, prance, and posture as the world-wide tough guy whom everyone owes obeisance and fear-driven respect. Such is not the American Core Value nor American Dream nor true American Patriotism.

Who has earned the right to speak about serious stuff with a veterans's wisdom? One group are those of my generation who've been there and done that. Twenty pages of rants from readers like Mr. Steff account for very little when contrasted with speaking from the knowing of experience and the wisdom of Veteran American heroes like Jack Murtha.

Our sons and daughters in the military serve honorably, deserve our highest respect and devotion. It should be recognized that the following are the conditions under which Americans expect their family blood to serve:

(1) The integrity and honor of the commander in chief of the military and that CIC's skill, wisdom and understanding of all reasons when and why military citizens are to be placed in harm's way.

Troops are at the mercy of that individual, his party and their combined priorities - with a strong expectation that those priorities extend beyond a desire to remain in the driver's seat.

(2)Our troops are also at the mercy of your own fellow citizens (including your own family) whom you trust to be willing and supportive in making sure the leadership does not waste your vital blood, devotion and patriotism in pipe dreams, self-interested agenda's and ideologies; That leaders are driven by a genuine desire to involve the country in on-going mutual participation and compromise regarding foreign policy before resorting to force as a last resort.

(3) Volunteering to become a soldier is volunteering to preserve and protect - with your own power and will - the country, its borders, its citizens and its institutions. It isn't volunteering to keep a political party in power. The only way to avoid that circumstance is for the citizens to assume their rightful role in the triangular relationship with the troops and the CIC.

The troops are expected to trust the CIC's wisdom as well as the patriotic participation of the Citizens who will keep the CIC honest.

The CIC is expected to trust the troops to follow orders and expects to sustain by honesty and integrity the support of the Citizens.

The Citizens expect the troops to do their duties and expect the CIC to sustain by honesty and integrity his political authority. The Citizens must be willing to hold the CIC accountable and willfully resist when the honesty and integrity of leadership is absent.

That is what is going on right now. The President has demonstrated his lack of what it means to serve or lead warriorsat a time when leadership is needed. The killing continues daily and folks like Steff talking like John Wayne in a junior high school locker room doesn't get it.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Thursday, 1 March 2007

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Online Activism

How about 1 Million Blogs for Peace to end the war in Iraq?

I came across it this morning, and think it's an interesting idea.  So many blogs, so many bloggers, and what can it hurt; maybe it can even help.

     One Million Blogs for Peace
           To End the Iraq War

Images they provide to place on your blog, after you sign up your blog at their site.  

or

or

(read more about the concept and pledge below the fold - assuming diaries have a fold)

 

 

The Concept
Between 20 March 2007 and 20 March 2008 (the fifth year of the war), we will attempt to sign up One Million Blogs for Peace. By signing up, a blogger is stating his or her agreement with The Pledge below. They will then be able to participate in various challenges launched by One Million Blogs for Peace. They will also be listed on this website with a link to their blog.

Bloggers may take The Pledge and sign up before the launch date of 30 March 2007 and will be declared an "Inblogural" (Inaugural Blog) of the movement.

The Pledge
I believe in the immediate withdrawal of all foreign combat troops from the nation of Iraq. I believe in using my blog, in whole or in part, as a tool toward this end.

Who's Eligible
For the official count (toward 1,000,000), a blog must be based in the home country of a nation currently engaged in the Iraq War. As of now, those nations are: Albania, Australia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Additional blogs from other nations may list themselves as "Support Blogs". While not counting toward the 1,000,000 count, these blogs will be eligible to participate in some of the challenges and will be listed in their own section.


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Now Playing: Bob Woodruff
Topic: Media Involvement

Bob Woodruff's 'To Iraq and Back' on ABC

Do you remember Bob Woodruff, an ABC journalist, who while covering the war in Iraq last year (he was literally in Iraq in Jan 2006) was severely injured by IED explosion, along with the other soldiers in the humvee?  If you didn't see the 'must see'airing of Bob Woodruff 'To Iraq and Back' last night, you can still see it online at ABC website.  

Traumatic Brain Injury - TBI - heard of it? Of the over 200,000 (that's right 200 thousand - much more than the figure cited by DOD) injured troops in Iraq, a quarter of those suffer with traumatic brain injury.

That is a quite high percentage but what is more astonishing is that the smaller VA hospital/centers don't have the knowledge, equipment, people power, staff or professionals to deal with it. I don't suppose it would surprise anyone to realize that TBI is another one of those 'issues' being sanitized and swept out of public view.

(Senators Murray and Cantwell - all our Congress Representatives - are you aware and are our VA hospitals in Washington equipped to treat follow up care for TBI soldiers? Wouldn't you want not one more soldier to have to face this kind of a homecoming? )

Thanks to the courage of ABC journalist/reporter, Bob Woodruff, and ABC's willingness to air it, special tv production 'To Iraq and Back' finds a middle ground arena (not slung with partisan politics) to try to educate the public on the plight of many of these injured, returning soldiers. If you didn't get chance to see it last night on tv, you can watch the online video here at ABC website.

Bob Woodruff was injured while reporting in Iraq, and he has made a recovery from his own traumatic brain injury (TBI) many in the medical profession view as remarkable. Which isn't to say he has completely recovered, rather that he has learned to compensate and inspires hope for other soldiers trying to adjust to life with TBI. He has made this tv special, 'To Iraq and Back' which aired on ABC, Tuesday night, Feb 27, 2007.

It chronicles his life starting from the IED explosion he experienced in the humvee in Iraq, the evac and medical journey, and his efforts at recovery. You will see some graphic reality. You will see Bob (and other soldiers) with half his head blown off, in recovery, with what is becoming the traditional 'helmet' TBI survivors wear and you will see glimpses of his efforts to retrain his memory.

As Bob goes back to the medical and hospital staff to thank them, he interviews them along the way and the viewer gets some firsthand information from those who have an up close and personal view of the enormity of injuries sustained by our troops. He then visits some of the soldiers on the humvee with him when the IED exploded.

He visits with other soldiers who have TBI and talks with the soldiers and their families about the resources or lack of resources after being released from the primary hospitals - Walter Reed and Bethesda. As those soldiers return to their homes in communities across the nation, the VA resources are not up to speed in treating them for TBI. (Most of you who know much about VA resources, already know the shortages of hospitals, centers, staff and services) .

Bob talks also with new VA Secretary, Jim Nicholson, or perhaps interviews him, because it looks very much to me like Jim Nicholson, is very uncomfortable with the questions Bob Woodruff puts to him. And they are not challenging or difficult questions, more straightforward kinds of questions, deserving of factual and straightforward answers. Something Jim Nicholson does not provide. His responses seem to me like efforts to minimize the severity and seriousness and strike me as the kind of defensive answers one gives when one knows what one is being asked reveals a truth being cloaked.

Mentioned in the tv show is Wounded Warriors Project - please see their website and help in whatever ways you can.

Excerpt from Wounded Warriors Project on Bob Woodruff's 'To Iraq and Back'

   

On Tuesday, February 27th at 10pm (EST), ABC will air the much anticipated special featuring ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff's injury and rehabilitation after suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) while covering the war in Iraq.

    This September, the Wounded Warrior Project had the distinct pleasure of meeting Bob in Washington DC at a TBI Caregiver Summit. The goal of the summit was to bring together family caregivers of service members who have incurred serious traumatic brain injuries during the war against terror and facilitate a dialogue between these family caregivers and key policy and legislative decision makers in Washington.

    Part of this summit and a roundtable discussion between Bob and the family caregivers (and some patients themselves) will be included in the piece.

Another excerpt:

   

At a hearing held last June by the House of Representatives Committee on Veterans Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health Jonathan Perlin testified that, "Traumatic Brain Injury accounts for almost 25 percent of combat casualties suffered in OIF/OEF by US Forces." With over 20,000 combat injuries to date during the ongoing global war on terror, this means that there are almost 5,000 service members suffering from traumatic brain injuries. While advances in body armor and battlefield medicine save the lives of many soldiers, they do not protect against impacts that cause brain injury.

An excerpt from Discover Magazine, article Dead Men Walking; What sort of future do brain-injured Iraq veterans face.

   

While the Pentagon has yet to release hard numbers on brain-injured troops, citing security issues, brain-injury professionals express concern about the range of numbers reported from other military-related sources like the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). One expert from the VA estimates the number of undiagnosed TBIs at over 7,500. Nearly 2,000 brain-injured soldiers have already received some level of care, but the TBIs--human beings reduced to an abbreviation--keep coming.

Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Friday, 23 February 2007

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Remembrances

Congress didn't act then, doesn't act now; History Lesson - Bonus Army - 1932

Bonus Army March on Washington DC in 1932 provides us with a model that has seemingly gone unchanged in how Congress responds to our military veterans, and the intensity by which veterans and civilians have to 'demonstrate' to get the attention of Congress - no not just get the attention, but enough attention that causes Congress to finally take action.    

A history lesson. Last night, on PBS station, was airing of a show about the 20,000 Bonus Army veterans of World War 1,along with their families, and other affiliated groups in their march on Washington DC, their encampment in Washington DC during the spring and summer of 1932, and the resulting riot that ensued to break up the encampment.  Congress continued to vote no to keeping a promise they had already made and given to these WW 1 veterans. Perseverance and persistence, on the part of the veterans, families and supporters and finally Congress said Yes to keeping their promise. What happened in between with Congress saying No to Congress saying Yes is not a pretty American tale, but indeed, part of American history.  

1932 - World War 1 and all the wars that followed up to the present in 2007 - why do our veterans have to fight Congress as well as fight in the battlefields?  It seems this is the 'norm', not the exception.  

In 1924 promise was made via Adjusted Service Certificate Law giving to WW1 veterans "bonus" certificates the following year that would be redeemable for cash after a maturation period of 20 years - payable in 1945.

June 17, 1932 and Congress was to vote on the Patman Bonus Bill, which would have moved forward the date when World War I veterans received a cash bonus. The 'Bonus Army' massed on DC, in hopes of convincing Congress to grant payments immediately, providing relief for the marchers/protestors who were unemployed. It was the era of the Great Depression, and veterans who already served found themselves in the food lines, without means to provide for their families, and were reduced from proud returning warriors to street beggars and bums (note; use of those words street beggars and bums reflects the social thinking of that era, not my definitions for how I think of the veterans of that era).  Not a pretty sight then for veterans, and doesn't it bring up recent history of Vietnam-era veterans who are homeless, living in the streets in reduced life circumstances?

Why is it no surprise that Congress defeated the bill July 28, and offered the pittance of paying the veteran demonstrators way home?  Some accepted and went home; others did not and remained. The Washington Police moved in to disperse the encampment, and two veterans were fatally shot in the process. The veterans hit back with blunt instruments, and the Washington Police backed off telling then President Hoover that they could not maintain the peace.

President Hoover ordered in federal troops to remove the veteran protesters.   Noted Generals, General Douglas MacArthur with Dwight D. Eisenhower as part of his staff,  and General George S. Patton were in command of the removal.  Troops carrying rifles, unsheathed bayonets and tear gas were sent in.    Hundreds of veterans were injured, several killed.  It's not hard to imagine the impact on the public of a visual of  U.S. armed soldiers confronting poverty-stricken veterans from what was then in American history the recent Great War.  (note; jumping forward in hisotry, we've seen this image again in Vietnam war protests).  It did set the stage and we do have these protesting WW 1 veterans to thank for what would become Veteran relief and eventually the Veterans Administration, making benefits of medical, home loans, and college tuition available to the next generation of veterans.

(Side note) And these benefits, I'm afraid, are on the serious decline as this Administration cites budget constraints while asking for budget supplemental appropriation to feed troop increases and keeping the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

In the battle against it's own veterans to clear the encampments, burning down the tents and shacks, by the end a list of casualties looked like this:


    - Two veterans were shot and killed.
    - An 11 week old baby was in critical condition resulting from shock from gas exposure.
    - Two infants died from gas asphyxiation.
    - An 11 year old boy was partially blinded by tear gas.
    - One bystander was shot in the shoulder.
    - One veteran's ear was severed by a Cavalry saber.
    - One veteran was stabbed in the hip with a bayonet.
    - At least twelve police were injured by the veterans.
    - Over 1,000 men, women, and children were exposed to the tear gas, including police, reporters, residents of Washington D.C., and ambulance drivers.

 President Hoover was not re-elected, and a new President in Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected. After his 1933 Inauguration, some of the veterans regrouped to make their case to the new President.  He did not want to pay the bonus either, and his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt engaged the veterans encouraging many of them to sign up for jobs making roadways at the Florida Keys.

In the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 in Florida, 259 of these veterans were killed at their worksites on the highway.  Public sentiment in reaction to seeing  newsreels of veterans giving their lives for a government that had taken them for granted, is what persuaded Congress they could no longer afford to ignore it in an election year (1936). Roosevelt's veto was overridden, and the veterans received their bonus.

 NPR Soldier Against Soldier; The Story of the Bonus Army with vintage newsreel.

I will mention 'Vietnam' without getting into another history lesson - a decade of sending our young into combat in an un-necessary war, 58,000 names of the dead on Vietnam Wall in Washington DC; millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians killed - oh yes, if you didn't know it to be true, U.S. troops were ordered by the Nixon Administration into Cambodia and Laos - it wasn't limited to Vietnam. The Nixon Administration also ordered the military use of weapons of mass destruction in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos without much regard to the troops or non-combatant civilians.  What did it take to get Congress to act in this history lesson?  

Today, then, in 2007, in the matter of four years of U.S. military deployed in occupation of Iraq, despite four years of mounted protests by hundreds of thousands in cities across the United States, in Washington DC - what is it going to take to affect Congress to action instead of using just empty words as they jocky for political position?  Despite the efforts of veterans - over 1,300 Iraq veterans signed the Appeal for Redress that was delivered to Congress in January 2007 - Lt. Ehren Watada's efforts by his refusal to deploy to put the Iraq war on trial in accord with U.S. compliance with Geneva Conventions - the poll which indicated that 70% of deployed troops polled believe they should come home -----   what is going to take to get Congress to listen and act?  

No, that is not a rant or a hopeless question.  The history dating back to the Bonus Army, and the wars in which the U.S. military has been deployed since clearly show a more than casual disregard for the military and veterans over a 65 year period.  That is more than happenstance - that is a pattern of behavior on the part of Congress.  And I only went back to 1932, choosing the Bonus Army as a starting place.  

Is it any wonder that there is almost now by rote an action = U.S. military deployed into questionable wars with reaction = U.S. public must battle Congress to see the error it it's ways via repeated and accelerated protest demonstrations before Congress will act?  Is this the norm in our country - this land of freedom?  Freedom of what, I ask myself sometimes - freedom to send our young off in repeated historical wars to be killed and maimed and scarred for life and with just a thank you Sir and then are as quickly as one clicks the remote to change the tv channel the 'new veterans' are forgotten? Freedom to maintain freedom by sending our young repeatedly generation after generation to war?  I have to wonder when freedom isn't freedom but an act of an extreme kind of  selfishness.  Why is it that only our country deserves the largess?

No, I don't want to move to another country and I'm sure many would be happy to invite that opportunity if I am so dis-satisfied with my own country.  And no, I don't want to live under a dictatorship or other forms of government that are oppressive in nature.  Besides, I've had a husband and now a son-in-law and nephew pay my price of freedom and freedom to speak since they have been in combat over two wars - Vietnam and Iraq. Oh, and my nephew was also in Bosnia - you remember Bosnia?  Clinton years?

But, just because we, in this country, have some mythical definitions of what it is to be a democracy and those definitions are bathed and perfumed in nostalgic and patriotic dressing, doesn't mean we should accept that as the satisfactory bar or standard of what it means to be a democracy.  We should strive for better, yes, and we should re-examine our definitions and we should, perhaps improve on those definitions, and we should stop sending our young generations to be killed in the name of democracy and freedom, or at the very least get a clearer sense of what constitutes a 'threat' and imminent danger to our country. .

Quoting President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who witnessed and participated in routing out the Bonus Army - U.S. troops against U.S. veterans:

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

 

  Don't think for a moment, that our Congress today, our Administration today does not well know the lessons of history.  Which is exactly why Congress refusing to act against an Administration who refuses to listen to the advice and warnings of his war experts is beyond deplorable as static energy - moving neither forward or backward,  perpetuating more of the same by doing nothing different. When did 'stay the course' become a patriotic nomenclature?  How is that bravery or wisdom in the face of foolishness?  

I truly do not wish to see the two in our family go back to Iraq this year - they returned alive, not necessarily well, but alive from their first 15 month deployment in 2003-2004.  Believe me, none in our family will consider it a noble sacrifice for them to go back, and their deaths will not honor them or us, rather it will be remembered that this Administration and Congress in concert did, in fact, exploit and dishonor our brave young service men and women.    


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Thursday, 15 February 2007

Topic: Civic Duty
 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


Posted by SwanDeer Project at 12:01 AM PST
Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Now Playing: Lietta Ruger at Washblog
Topic: Members Speak Out

Seven (7) WA based soldiers killed in Iraq so far Jan 2007 - how many more?

I wanted to call attention to
diary by Leftshue
, and urge comments and recommends.  It is a diary honoring the increasing number of Washington based soldiers who have paid the ultimate price with their lives in Iraq this month. Seven, so far, in Jan 2007 and we are only at Feb 6, 2007 as of today.  

Please visit his diary, add your respect, if nothing more than a comment to honor the loss to Washington military families.


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