Saturday, June 14, 2008

Other Items

In the past several months the name of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada has seen very little press time. That's a major change from last November when the JA officer's name was a frequent presence in both the mainstream and Japanese American press.
It was seven months ago that a federal judge blocked the U.S. Army from conducting a second court-martial of Watada for refusing to deploy to Iraq with his unit in June of 2006.
U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle ruled that a second trial would violate Watada's constitutional rights, essentially agreeing with the officer's attorneys who argued double jeopardy - that a person could not be tried twice for the same crime.
Although the Army had indicated its intention to file paperwork to prevent the federal judge's injunction from becoming permanent, no paperwork has been filed to date.
It's left the 30-year-old Hawaii officer in a state of limbo.
"I kind of think it's like Guantanamo - just hold him ," said the officer's father Bob Watada in an interview with the Honolulu Advertiser.

The above is is from New America Media's "The Price of Dissen: 1st Lt. Watada's Future Still a Mystery." A visitor notes Kimberly Hefling's "Study sees discrepancies in VA care for men, women" (AP):

Health care for female military veterans lags behind the care offered to male vets at many VA facilities, an internal agency report says, even as women are serving on front lines at historic levels.
There are clear needs for more physicians trained in women's care and more equipment to meet women's health needs, said Friday's review by the Department of Veterans Affairs.It did add that strides are being made, such as creating onsite mammography services and establishing women's clinics at most VA medical centers. The department also is attempting to recruit more clinicians with training in women's care.
For now, female veterans aren't getting the same quality of outpatient care as men in about one-third of the VA's 139 facilities that offer it, the report said. That appeared to validate the complaints of advocates and some members of Congress who have said more emphasis needs to be placed on women's health.

The visitor wonders "how you missed this big story!" I didn't miss it. I saw it yesterday. I was (and am) still waiting on an article worth highlighting. The problem is the VA's treament of women? We've covered that issue. AP? They write about a study and 'round' it out by rushing to a male veteran (one who's a joke and a War Hawk and, since he's publicly insulted Watada on CNN, we won't even give his filthy name here)? I'm real sorry that the AP can't grasp how stupid that looks. The VA, as we've long noted, is shutting out women, female veterans are not getting the services they need. So someone checks her limited rolodex for a 'vet' to quote and runs with a man? Add to it it's a man who refers to legitimate concerns as "complaints" by female veterans?

The article's a piece of trash. The VA ignores the needs of female veterans and the AP thinks the way to 'explore' that is to run to a male veteran to tell us all what's what? Don't think so. It's a crappy and insulting article. We've quoted about all there is worth quoting. Hopefully some outlet will cover the story and grasp that if female veterans are having problems with the VA (which they are, and Patty Murray made that very clear a few weeks back, or did everyone miss that?) the go to is not a male veteran to add 'perspective' on what it's like to be a female veteran attempting to get promised care from the VA. As awful as AP is, it needs to be noted that the male vet could have and SHOULD HAVE said, "Here's ____'s number. Call her because I'm a man and I'm really not the person to comment because (a) I haven't led on this issue and (b) I am a man."

It's amazing how male is the 'universal' for the press even when it's an issue that is effecting women. The AP should be embarrassed and ashamed. When women finally make the article, it's a 65-year-old and a 64-year-old. Those women are not part of the new influx and do not know what women returning from Iraq are up against. It's an insulting article.

Murray gets a quick shout out. They don't rush to quote her. May 21st, calling to order the Senate Committe on Veterans Affairs, Murray (the chair wasn't there for the start of the committee hearing and asked her to call the meeting to order) stated:

Senator Patty Murray: Women have always played a role in our military going back to the founding of of our nation. However, as we all know, in today's conflicts women are playing a far different and far greater role. Women now make up 14% of our current active duty guard and reserve forces. Some units, including military police, are using an increased number of females to fill jobs that were traditionally held by male personnel. And because of the conflicts of today, we have no clear frontlines and women, like all of our service members, are always on the frontline -- riding on dangerous patrols, guarding pivotal check points and witnessing the horrors of war first hand. However, while women's numbers are rising on the battle field, up until now women have remained a small minority at the VA. According to the VA, there are more than 1.7 million women veterans but only 255,000 of those women actually use the VA health care services. For too long the reasons for this discrepancy have been elusive but today we are getting a clear picture. In fact, when I first started holding roundtables around my home state of Washington to talk to veterans about their experiences with the VA, I heard almost exclusively from men. They would sit at the table with me, they would stand up, they would tell their stories and talk about their issues. But inevitably, as I was leaving the room, a woman would come up to me and whisper to me her experiences. Some told me they had been intimidated by the VA and viewed the VA as a male only facility. Others simply told me that they couldn't find someone to watch their kids so they could attend a counseling session or find time for other care. But as some members of this committee and those who will testify today know the voices of women veterans are no longer whispers. Today they are full throated calls for equal access to care at the VA. And I believe that now, as we sit on the brink of seeing more returning veterans than ever before, it is time that we heed those calls. We simply cannot allow the attitudes of the past or the VA's lack of preparation for the influx of new women veterans to linger a moment longer. As The Independent Budget has noted [PDF format warning, here], the number of women using VA health care services will double in less than 5 years if women veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan continue to enroll at the current enrollment rate. We need to make sure now that the VA is prepared to care for the needs of these honorable veterans today. And that is exactly why Senator [Kay Baily] Hutchison and I introduced The Women's Health Care and Improvement Act of 2008. This important legislation will increase the number of women accessing care at the VA by increasing the VA's understanding of the needs of women vets and the practices that will best help them. It will do so by requiring the VA to study the health care needs of women who are serving or who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, study the effectiveness of current services being provided to women veterans, study barriers to care for women veterans who are not accessing the VA health care system and it will also help provide child care for new born children of a woman veteran who is receiving maternity care at the VA. It will implement a program to train, educate and certify VA mental health professionals to care for women with Military Sexual Trauma [MST] and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]. It will begin a pilot program that provides child care to women veterans that seek mental health care or other intensive health care services at the VA. It will begin a pilot program that provides readjustment counseling to women veterans in group retreat settings. It will make the position of Women Veterans Program Manger at all VA medical centers a full time position. And finally, it will include women that are recently separated from service on VA advisory boards. Now I know that the VA recognizes that they need to improve services for our women veterans and the department has taken several steps to do that. But a lot more needs to be done if we're going to ensure that women get access to equal care at the VA for health care benefits and services and that the VA health care system is tailored to meet the unique needs of our women veterans. Planning for the wave of new women veterans is going to be a difficult and complex task but the effort has to start today and it has to start with this bill.

The snapshots, due to Yahoo mail's 'upgrade' (which adds a background now that takes up a lot of K and requires the snapshots be shorter or not be able to 'hit' the site when e-mailed), are shorter. Friday's emphasis was on war resisters and on the treaty talks. Calling out the bad AP article (required if it was included in the snapshot) would have taken more space than was available.

Since yesterday morning, the following community websites have updated:

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;

The number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war currently stands at 4099, one away from 4100. AP reports:

Iraqi police say a female suicide bomber has targeted soccer fans near a cafe north of Baghdad as they were celebrating Iraq's win in a World Cup qualifying game.
The top administrator in Qara Tappah says at least 34 people were wounded when the woman detonated her explosives belt as she walked toward the crowd emerging from the cafe after Iraq's 2-1 win over China in an away game.

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ehren watada