Friday, October 30, 2009

Service members

Many military personnel who acquired post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are being inappropriately discharged, despite Pentagon assurances that proper policy is being followed.
That's the conclusion of Sens. Kit Bond of Missouri and Sam Brownback of Kansas, both Republicans. The two recently sent a letter to President Obama urging him to ensure returning veterans get the health care they deserve.
The two lawmakers -- joined by Sens. Blanche Lincoln, an Arkansas Democrat, and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a Republican -- reminded Obama that when he served in the Senate, he, too, was concerned about this issue.

The above is from the Sacramento Bee's "Credible doubts raised about Pentagon's handling of combat vets with mental problems" today and they note, "The following editorial appeared in the Kansas City Star on Wednesday, Oct. 28". Sticking with the theme of mishandling veterans' issues, the October 21st snapshot included:

Meanwhile Lauren DeFranco (WABC -- link has text and video) reports Christal Wagenhauser gave birth to a two month premature daughter and she and the family want Cpl [Keith] Wagenhouser -- currently stationed in Iraq -- home to see the baby: "If the baby's condition deteriorates, it would take Wagenhauser a week to get home. At that point, it would be too late."

Jennifer Logan (CBS) reports that Keith Wagenhauser was finally given time to visit his family and arrived in New York yesterday and explains: "In an incubator adorned with her father's military photo, Madison, born by life-saving caesarean section, weighing just 2-pounds 11-ounces is being treated in the neonatal intensive care unit of Stony Brook University Medical Center. Initially, marine brass explained that emergency leave is granted only in cases of imminent or actual death in their immediate family and that Madison's condition was not sufficiently life threatening enough to grant an exception." So good for the military brass for doing the right thing. Nothing announced yet from the Congress regarding Frances Barrios (we noted her earlier this week). She's the wife of Iraq War veteran Jack Barrios and the mother of their two children. The US government wants to deport her. (She's from Guatemala originally, entered the US with her mother when she was just six-years-old.) As offensive as that is -- and it's really offensive -- it's also economically stupid because Jack suffers from PTSD. The US government is going to provide him a caretaker who will do all that Frances currently does? Really? Teresa Watanabe (Los Angeles Times) reported earlier this week:

But as he undergoes counseling and swallows anti-depressants, the soldier is fighting an even bigger battle: to keep his family from collapsing as his wife, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, faces deportation.
His wife, 23-year-old Frances, was illegally brought to the United States by her mother at age 6, learned of her status in high school and discovered just last year that removal proceedings have been started. Her possible deportation has left Barrios in panic as he contemplates life without her.
The Army reservist says his wife is the family's anchor, caring for their year-old daughter and 3-year-old son and helping him battle his post-traumatic stress.
"She's my everything," Barrios said as he sat glumly in the family's sparsely furnished but tidy Van Nuys apartment. "Without her, I can't function. It would be like taking away a part of my soul."
Hundreds of U.S. soldiers are facing the same trouble as they fight to legalize their spouses' status, a difficult process that has affected their military readiness, according to Margaret Stock, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves and an immigration attorney specializing in military cases.

Yesterday Staff Sgt. Bradly Espinoza, who was killed in Iraq October 19th, was buried. Victor Castillo (Valley Central) reports that among those paying their respects were Urbano Gonzalez and Casey Ojeda -- the father and sister of Spc Alex Gonzalez who was killed in Iraq and quotes Urbanao Gonzalez stating, "I'm here to support them because, due to the fact my son past over there as well, I'm just here, anybody that comes here that related to that. I'm all the way on their side." Lynn Brezosky (San Antonio Express-News) reports, "Family members sobbed quietly during the Mass and the ceremony that followed at the new Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission, where military officials presented them with a long list of awards and decorations. Members of the Valley's Patriot Guard circled the gathering with American flags held high. Taps was played and soldiers fired rifle volleys." Martha L. Hernandez (The Monitor) quotes Felix Rodriguez (a veteran with Hildalgo County Veterans Service Office) stating, "To see his kids there, it breaks your soul."

Meanwhile, the Salt Lake Tribune reminds, " Nov. 13 is the mailing date for the most-economical postage to overseas military installations, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Mail sent to overseas military addresses is charged at the lower domestic-mail prices. For instance, the domestic price for Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box is $13.95, but for packages to APO/FPO addresses, the price is reduced to $11.95." Kathleen E. Carey (Delaware County Daily Times) reports on military food from Basra. Tom Roeder (Colorado Springs Gazette) reports from Iraq on Fort Carson soldiers.

The following community sites updated last night:

And Marcia's "Laura Flanders, America's Most Embarrassing Dyke," Trina's "The health insurance swindle," Ruth's "Senator Roland Burris," Ann's "Happy B-day internet," Kat's "Carly" and Isaiah's "Alito does his business."

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oh boy it never ends