Saturday, March 08, 2008

Deploying the wounded

A 10th Mountain Division soldier who went AWOL claiming his commanding officers threatened to send him back to Iraq despite his listing as medically unfit for combat planned to surrender Friday to Fort Drum authorities and ask for an investigation into his treatment.
Spec. Bryan Currie, 21, of Charleston, S.C., will ask U.S. Secretary of the Army Pete Geren to convene a Court of Inquiry -- a rarely used administrative fact-finding process -- to investigate top generals at Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Drum, N.Y.; and Fort Hood, Texas, said Tod Ensign of the New York City-based veterans' advocacy group CitizenSoldier.
The request calls for convening a panel to investigate the case of Currie and four other soldiers at Fort Carson and Fort Hood who also were set to be deployed despite medical holds.

The above is from AP's "AWOL soldier claims mistreatment by commanders, wants inquiry" and Amy Ohler's "Soldier files deployment probe" (News 10 Now, link has text and video) also covers this:

With his lawyer and family by his side Specialist Bryan Currie spoke out about why he went AWOL.
"There was no care everywhere I looked. There was a lot of hazing from higher-ups. People that should be there to help platoon sergeants and stuff were just not there or didn't care," said Spec Bryan Currie, 10th Mountain Division.
While serving in Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division Currie was hit by a roadside bomb.
"Sustained a broken jaw, broken cheek bone, lost four teeth, burned my hands. I've got shrapnel wounds, PTSD, lacerated my lip I had to get stitches, my knees were swollen, I couldn't walk the dashboard crushed my legs," said Currie.
Currie said he had a hard time receiving care but once he found a doctor that would listen, that doctor wrote in his physical profile, "cannot deploy." It stated that Currie could not run, carry a weapon or wear protective gear.

And yesterday, we noted Erin Emery's "Soldiers seek deployment probe: The Army will be asked to investigate generals for deploying ailing GIs" (Denver Post) on this subject. As these stunts are pulled, you need to be asking where Congress is? (Wasting time, more often than not. They embarrassed themselves as the White House sent the decorated suits to this committee and that last week doing their War Dance for more money -- money to destroy, not to help any of the people serving -- it was particularly appalling to see one Thursday hearing that offered nothing but greedy little boys, wide-eyed over 313 naval ships -- we'll be kind and not name the Congressional members embarrassing themselves.) KeShawn asks that "Hillary Clinton: Protecting Those Who Protect Us" be noted:

Today in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Lt. General Joe Ballard and Brigadier General John M. Watkins, Jr. joined Hillary Clinton as she spoke about her plans to ensure that we take care of our brave young men and women in uniform. She outlined her plans to provide health care for all veterans, make sure that all veterans and families receive the benefits they are entitled to, and to ease their transition to life back home.
Hillary Clinton has a long history of fighting for our veterans and, as President, will work to ensure our country fulfills its obligations to those who have served and sacrificed for the nation. Hillary has the record and experience to deliver that change.
That's why she has always fought for veterans in the Senate. From tokens of respect, like free postage when you write to a service member in Iraq or Afghanistan. To practical help, like providing expanded access to temporary housing when you move so you don’t have to pay out of your own pocket. To the critical work of helping care for our wounded warriors by expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act and by passing elements of the Heroes at Home Act to help family members care for those with Traumatic Brain Injury. And she will always fight for you as President.
Expanding TRICARE Access. Hillary Clinton crossed the aisle to work with Senator Lindsey Graham to get access to TRICARE, the military health insurance program, for all National Guard members and Reservists, even when they are not deployed. As a result of Hillary's work with Senator Graham, the more than 12,000 members of Mississippi's National Guard have access to TRICARE.
Supporting Service Members with TBI. Senator Clinton authored the Heroes at Home Act, which would establish a program to help families learn how to care for returning veterans with TBI, as well as require DoD to do pre- and post-deployment screenings.
Increasing Survivor Benefit. She worked with others in the Senate to pass legislation to increase the military survivor benefit from $12,000 to $100,000.
Extending FMLA Benefits. She helped pass the Support for Injured Servicemembers Act, which extends the benefits provided under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by allowing the families of wounded military personnel to take up to six months of unpaid leave to care for their loved ones during the often lengthy rehabilitation process.
Improving TBI Screening and Care. She successfully included a provision in the recently enacted Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act to mandate that the Department of Defense implement a screening protocol for Traumatic Brain Injury within 180 days. In addition, in 2006, Senator Clinton authored provisions in the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 that increased research into ways to improve TBI care for veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When Hillary is President, she will make sure that every member of our armed forces will receive a fair shot at the American Dream when their service is over. She will ensure that every veteran in America will have health care. She will work so that every veteran receives the benefits they have earned and the assistance they need - right from the start. And she will make sure no soldier ever loses a bonus because he or she has been injured in service. As President, Hillary will:
Enact a GI Bill of Rights for the Twenty-first Century. Hillary will enact a GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century that will resurrect the spirit of the original 1944 GI Bill and offer service members, veterans and their families with expanded education, housing and entrepreneurial benefits. Her plan will guarantee equal access for all components of the Armed Forces -- Active, Guard and Reserve -- that have deployed overseas in support of a combat operation since September 11 or served two years of active duty since September 11. She will fund undergraduate education for service members, as well as education for specialized trade or technical training, and certification and licensing programs. She will make GI educational benefits transferable within families. She will expand the VA Home Loan Guaranty program to allow veterans to use low-interest, no-fee loans to purchase, build or improve a home valued up to $625,000. She will establish a Veterans Microloan Program to provide veterans with no-collateral, low-interest microloans of up to $100,000 for entrepreneurial ventures.
Fully Fund the VA. Senator Clinton believes there is no more important way of honoring veterans than ensuring they can receive quality care through the VA. As President, she will push to have guaranteed funding for the VA. She does not believe the VA should be fighting every year to get money for the people who take care of us.
Provide Affordable and Quality Health Care for All Veterans. As President, Hillary will ensure that all of the 1.8 million uninsured veterans in this country have access to quality, affordable health care. She will restore the Clinton-era policy that opened the VA's excellent and cost-effective health care system to all veterans who seek to enroll. She will make a long-term commitment to the VA system to ensure it is adequately funded and has the capacity to avoid backlogs and to handle greater enrollments. And she will provide coverage through the American Health Choices Plan to all veterans who choose not to use the VA system.
Ensure All Veterans Receive the Benefits They Have Earned and the Assistance They Need -- Right from the Start. As President, Hillary will commit to getting a fair, accurate, and timely decision for every veteran filing a disability claim. She will increase the number of qualified VA evaluators to reduce the backlog of claims. She will provide fast-track training for new claims specialists and expand the Benefits Delivery at Discharge Program to smooth the transition from service to discharge for all those who serve our country.
Extend Hiring Preferences to Veterans-friendly Contractors. Today, there are between 7.2 and 7.6 million federal contractors, 2 million more than there were five years ago. The privatization of government by the Bush administration has meant veterans are losing job opportunities, because contractors do not necessarily have the same hiring policies as the federal government. Hillary will cut the number of contractors working for the federal government by 500,000 over the next 10 years, saving $10 to $18 billion a year. And she will restore and expand job opportunities for veterans by working to establish a system through which federal contractors afford veterans hiring preference comparable to the federal government’s.
Give Veterans Additional Opportunities to Serve. Hillary will make vouchers worth up to $10,000 available to returning veterans who want to serve in AmeriCorps and select not-for-profit organizations. These organizations would provide at least $5,000 to supplement the voucher. This system will help veterans create normal routines and reenter their communities while doing meaningful work serving their country. Hillary will make this subsidy available to as many as 20,000 veterans a year.
Reduce Homelessness among Veterans. In 2006, nearly 200,000 veterans were homeless on any given night. Hillary will establish a pilot program on homelessness prevention for veterans that will provide subsidies, eviction prevention, and one-time assistance for veterans who fall behind on their rent. She will also expand rental assistance for veterans by calling on Congress to fund an additional 20,000 housing choice vouchers exclusively for homeless veterans.
Expand the Helmets to Hardhats Program. Hillary will increase funding for the Helmets to Hardhats program. This program links veterans with local job opportunities in the construction and trade industries by offering apprenticeship programs that teach veterans through on-the-job training supplemented by classroom instruction.
Expand Veterans Homeownership. Hillary will make homeownership more affordable for veterans. Veterans will receive a 50% discount on foreclosed properties in the government’s inventory, which currently stands at 35,000 homes. And she will eliminate the upfront fees on VA mortgages for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who take out VA loans within two years of leaving active duty.

KeShawn writes that he hoped that would go into the snapshot yesterday. It would have been nice if it could and it'll get a link of some kind on Monday; however, it didn't go in for the reasons Rebecca notes in "sammy power gone, bambi scrambles" which are, "Where's Bambi?" I was on the phone with Bambi's campaign about Sammy Power (and prepared, as Mike noted, to say something nice about that campaign for firing Sammy but they didn't fire her) so I asked, "Well do you have anything this week on veterans?" Now I only asked one of the two friends I spoke to (about Sammy) and he didn't know. He started talking up an old (and non-specific) policy paper. Rebecca makes the point very well in her post from last night. When she was working on that, we all gathered around one laptop (in Trina's Kitchen) and were going through that ego-worshipping website. He has nothing. (Except his head emerging from the clouds.) That was the impression I was left with yesterday on the phone but didn't have time to check the site while dictating the snapshot. Also true is that today is International Women's Day and the report that came out Thursday on Iraqi women was always going to be noted in Friday's snapshot for that reason so there was limited space (which resulted in several things being pulled from the snapshot before it was e-mailed). In his e-mail KeShawn wondered if Bambi had any plans like Hillary? None that's he's ever expressed, apparently, but you can be sure were it to be asked as a question in a debate and Hillary answered first, Barack would then follow with "I agree with Hillary" and proceed to restate every point she made while pretending like he'd done his own work.

The report -- Women for Women International's [PDF format warning] "Stronger Women, Stronger Nations: 2008 Iraq Report" -- is important and wasn't it great of Amy Goodman to note it yesterday? Oh, wait, she didn't. There was (as usual) no time on her hour long show to devote a segment to Iraq. And she gave Women's International Day less than four minutes. Maybe she'll type up something on the topic and send it off to be published in her 'mainstream' outlet of choice (Hu**ler magazine)?

On the issue of Iraqi women, a visitor e-mails outraged that a story (in a regional daily) wasn't noted. He doesn't note the story but I believe I know the one he means. It's about the US military's efforts to 'help' Iraqi women. When someone embarrasses themselves while trying to help, we don't generally make a point to highlight it unless they're an ass (hello, Sammy Power!). The story I believe the e-mails referring to is a "news" article. Or that's how it's presented. It's not a news article, it's a feature article and the reporter is such an idiot that he or she (I believe it was a she) doesn't even try to get facts to balance out the woefully uninformed female service member. (I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt that she's uninformed and not lying.) The female service member puts foward all these (false) claims about life for Iraqi women in Iraq before the start of the illegal war. The female service member does not know what she's talking about and seems to have confused Afghanistan (either before the start of that current war or right now -- there's no difference in the quality of women's lives there) with Iraq. Hopefully, something comes from the service member's interaction with Iraqi women but I saw that article and it didn't pass the test here (which is your average person -- not a name -- gets two mistakes in their quotes, after that, they're not eligible for a linking). (And thought the program itself is a sham, individual female service members may be making a difference and that includes the woman so quick to weigh in on a history she knew nothing about. For those who didn't see the article, claims included that before the US invaded, Iraqi women could not hold jobs or drive cars -- they could and did. It's different today as a result of the illegal war -- women are afraid of what will happen to them if they're seen driving and they're usually the first the thugs of the puppet government intimidate into closing shop.)

On Saturdays we generally highlight Margaret Kimberley's latest at Black Agenda Report ("generally" -- unless it's already made the snapshot that week, it's been highlighted on the for the last two years plus all but twice -- once because I forgot and the other because the New York Times so ticked me off that morning, I wasn't in the mood to do anything but post the entries and be done). We're not highlighting it today. We'll try to do so tomorrow. The reason is three e-mails from overnight that say they can't get Black Agenda Report to display. It's early as I write this but I have gone to the site and gotten the same error message. Hopefully by the time this posts later today, Black Agenda Report will be up and working. But it's not right now. Sabrina has the Kimberley excerpt already picked (and e-mailed to note it Thursday night). If the site's up by tomorrow, we'll note it Sunday morning. It's called "Economic Meltdown" and we'll try to grab it tomorrow.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
Trina's Trina's Kitchen;
Ruth's Ruth's Report;

We'll close with this from Borzou Daragahi's "Iraqi neighborhood mourns dead after bombings" (Los Angeles Times):

Grief engulfed this city's most prosperous and lively enclave Friday as residents mourned loved ones who were lost in a suicide bomb attack a night earlier.
Authorities said the death toll had risen to 68 and that 120 other people were injured in the Thursday evening assault, which targeted the busy Karada shopping and residential district. Fatalities climbed steadily overnight as patients who had suffered severe burns and shrapnel wounds died.
The carefully planned attack was one of the worst in Baghdad in months. After the first bomb went off, a huge crowd of people gathered, and minutes later they became the target of an assailant wearing a bomb underneath his leather jacket, police said.
Along Karada's streets Friday, funeral tents were spread open. Weeping relatives strapped simple wooden coffins to the roofs of white Chevy Suburbans and creaky Korean-made minivans, driving slowly through the neighborhood's main streets as people in black walked behind, beating their chests and wailing.

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borzou daragahi
the los angeles times