Tuesday, September 18, 2007


War Hawks are e-mailing regarding a story and we'll note it here. Alan Garthright and Hector Gutierrez (Rocky Mountain News) have reported that Iraq vet Ricardo Cortez who was apparently speaking out against the illegal war is now held on charges in an attack on "his estranged wife . . . [and] her companion". If Cortez is guilty, and not to minimize or excuse his actions, it only demonstrates again the way that the Veterans Affairs Dept. is failing veterans who return and need help. This is not the first act of violence -- if Cortez committed it -- committed by a veteran -- in this illegal war or any other -- nor is it as though the civilian population doesn't also get charged with violent crimes. If Cortez did do what he's charged with, this goes to the lack of medical screening for returning veterans and those e-mailing who thinks this 'proves' anything about veterans against the illegal war should be aware that many pro-war veterans have been charged with much worse including murdering their wives. The issue isn't their stance on the Iraq War, the issue is most likely the lack of medical attention that the military is providing to those returning.

The above is in today's "Iraq snapshot." Marcia e-mailed asking, "You are going to write more, right?" Yes, but I was planning on grabbing it tomorrow.

The US military training is socialization. People are trained to attack and they are trained to kill. It is not a culture of diplomacy, it is a culture of violence.

Leaving aside anything that might be seen in battle for a moment, the screening process is supposed to be high (it's not high currently, Bully Boy has lowered the standards each year) and one of the reasons is due to the influence of the 'training.'

The screening process includes tests (whether you agree with standardized testing or not -- I don't) which are intended to weed out those who could be sociopaths. Those days are obviously gone as evidenced by many such as Steven D. Green making it through the screening process. The point of the screening was supposed to be to find those who could be trained to act one way in a war zone but would conduct themselves differently when back home.

The press focuses far too much on the issue of a high school diploma when they talk about the lowered standards. The issue is not education, the issue is 'grounding' and that's what the tests are designed for. They are taking people to the brink and the tests are designed to weed out those not likely to make it back.

In training, despite the claims of one talk show host, it is not about "We all pull together." It is about no individual thoughts, it is about find the weakest link and go after them. That's why abuse is (still) tolerated and ignored. You get with the program or you get abuse -- that is the attitude that allows higher ups to look the other way. The point is to socialize strangers into a tight unit and to demonstrate that some are not accepted and will never be.

It is a culture of violence in word and deed.

Were standardized tests perfect (which they aren't) and were everyone admitted firmly grounded (which they really aren't under the current administration), people would still return scarred from what they'd seen and/or taken part in.

That is where Veterans' Affairs is supposed to provide help and doesn't.

Violence can manifest itself inward or outward. The high number -- and little reported on -- of suicides are violence being turned inward in many cases. Those veterans were failed by the Veterans' Administration which has STILL not done enough to improve the post-combat screening and treatment. Some turn it outward, those veterans have also been failed by the department that is supposed to help them.

Flashbacks episodes or resorting to violence are not new to this illegal war. They are well documented. When John Kerry (rightly) pointed out Bully Boy's cuts in the 2004 campaign, NoFactCheck.org showed their ignorance by not grasping the point that the number of people serving in combat was rising drastically and the monies the administration was speaking of were not in line with what was needed -- needed based on expectations created from past wars.

The veterans have been consistently failed. And each war is supposed to bring an improvement. Bully Boy elected to fight his illegal war on the cheap (despite all the money tossed down the drain -- and into the pockets of cronies). Vietnam was a watershed moment because veterans didn't just go away. And veterans who advocated for them and others who advocated for them were not going to be silenced. By the time Bully Boy's illegal war began it was known what kind of monies would be needed for returning veterans and the decision was made to fight the illegal war on the cheap when it came to service members.

They have been failed and there's little sign -- despite the dog and pony shows -- that this has changed.

You do not, for instance, staff an alleged panel to make recommendations on veterans care without a single health care professional actively treating veterans, without any spouse of a veteran who has first hand knowledge of what can happen upon return or without any veteran from this war on the panel. A WWII veteran fought a completely different war, for different reasons, in a different environment and with different weapons. He's also too far removed to know much about what it's like to return.

John Kerry was 100% right in 2004 and we are seeing proven each day as veterans can't even get the most basic of care for the physical wounds.

Already e-mails have came into the public account claiming there have been no murders. They need to do their own research but a starting point can be Maureen Orth's "Fort Bragg's Deadly Summer" (Vanity Fair, December 2002). The article may or may not be online (at Vanity Fair). Many libraries carry the magazine and you can look there.

To repeat, John Kerry was 100% right in that instance. There are other things he may have been wrong on (I feel he was wrong to bury his past bravery of speaking out after returning and by running from it it became all the easier for the GOP to vilify him for it -- of course, he also refused to run against the illegal war and instead wanted to fight a 'smarter' illegal war). He was right on that. And NoFactCheck.org should have consulted with medical professionals -- but journalists have a huge tendency to think they're insta-experts on everything. Elaine, before John Kerry was hitting on that issue, was already seeing the problems in her own practice (and, shout out to my friend, that is why she has repeatedly done all veterans' counseling pro-bono).

I should add that, although fingered as the ring-leader in the gang-rape and murder of Abeer and the murder of her five-year-old sister and both parents, Steven D. Green maintains his innocence. He has yet to be tried. That doesn't alter the fact that he never should have been inducted -- the reasons for his discharge demonstrate that the screening process failed.

Completely unrelated but I didn't see that e-mail earlier. United for Peace & Justice states they are using the Just Foreign Policy count for Iraqis who have died in the illegal war. This change will be noted in tomorrow's snapshot. We will also note the decision Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.