Monday, November 30, 2009

Send off ceremonies and PTSD

Today, Galan is back at Fort Bliss, outside El Paso, where he spent the last three months training for his first deployment to Iraq.
Like the rest of his Texas National Guard company, he was given leave during what may be his last week in the country to say goodbye to his family -- his wife of three years and the children he calls his own.
Four days wasn't nearly enough time.
Celeste McBride, 5, thinks Galan is in "soldier school," where he kills lions, bears and cheetahs so they can't eat her -- a fantasy close enough to the truth that she still bawled for much of his first night home.
At 14, Gabriel Cortez is old enough to understand what his stepfather is doing. He doesn't like to talk about it.
Alyssia Cortez, a bright and outgoing 8-year-old, is somewhere in between.
"She's like Celeste with 'soldier school,' " Jessica [Cortez-Galan] said. "But the only thing she knows about soldiers is they go to war and they fight."

The above is from Avi Selk's "With Iraq deployment at hand, soldier gets 4 days to say goodbye" (Dallas Morning News) on Pfc Kenneth E. Galan's efforts to get various items in order (including his will) before heading to Iraq. Meanwhile Rafael Carranza (south Texas' KGBT) reports on a send off ceremony Saturday for soldiers headed to Iraq, "Each family clutched on their loved ones for the remainder of their time together." Sergio Gonzalez' aunt (not named in the story) is quoted stating, "We just hope he comes back safe and I know he will because the whole family is gonnab e praying for him." In Connecticut, Hilda Munoz and David Owens (Hartford Courant) reports on the send off ceremony for the "59 members of the 4th Quartermaster Battalion" who left for Fort Dix Sunday and will then deploy to Iraq: "Ann Layon has known for months that her son, a private in the U.S. Army Reserve, was going to Iraq. But it wasn't until Sunday morning when she saw him standing in line with the other soldiers that she started to cry."

Meanwhile Kevin Fagan (San Francisco Chronicle) tackles PTSD:

Pentagon bean counters see an extra $40 billion in annual costs if President Obama sends 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, but Michael Blecker sees mainly this:
More than 13,000 new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. An additional 8,000 or so traumatic brain injuries. More suffering and need coming home in the form of wounded vets than the country can easily handle.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have produced more diagnosed cases of PTSD and debilitating injuries per capita than any other war in the nation's history, health care experts say. And veterans who encounter homecoming trouble are becoming homeless more quickly than ever, street counselors say.

ICCC's down this morning. Blame it on the very BAD and OFFENSIVE article Moni Basu contributed for CNN. Offensive? Is it 1909? No? Then explain this crap:

White wanted to know how a soldier died. Was he on foot when the bomb went off? Or inside a Humvee? Was this the first tour of duty? What was his wife like? How many children did he leave fatherless?

If Basu doesn't know that some of the fatalities are women then maybe news isn't the right profession. That's offensive and there's no damn excuse for it.

But there's no excuse for Basu's b.s. story to begin with. People need to stop crediting ICCC for their 'count' of 'civilians.' That's not what they're counting (check when it comes back up) and they (a) go whole days without ever noting an Iraqi fatality and (b) when they do note, it's only Reuters. Not McClatchy, not AP, not any other news outlet. If Reuters doesn't report the death, it didn't happen for the ICCC count.

That's ridiculous and embarrassing. For example, Reuters has reported no deaths, NONE, since Thursday. There were deaths. McClatchy's reported them, AFP's reported them and Xinhua's reported them. But the ICCC 'count' of Iraqis killed doesn't register those because Reuters didn't report them. That's why ICCC's count is even less, EVEN LESS, than the official count the Iraqi ministries release at the start of each month. It's embarrassing and let's also be clear that Basu is a real idiot and nothing resembling a reporter. Basu repeats other claims about ICCC -- claims that were true . . . once upon a time before their last crash. The various things Basu claims ICCC can do? They didn't restore it after their crash. Now I don't look at their Afghanistan page and have no idea what it does or doesn't but a lot of the things you can do on the ICCC page, according to Basu, you actually haven't been able to do for months because they didn't restore that data after they came back up.

In other words, Basu's article is offensive and riddled with inaccuracies. In other words, it and Basu are journalistic embarrassments.

ICCC still does a good job on a total count, that's all they do a good job on. You can't even trust their break down by state as I found out a month or so ago when we quoted their state break down only for me to hear from the family of a fallen that their son wasn't counted in that total. Then I looked and none of those states are up to date. One state hadn't been updated in three months despite the fact that there had been two deaths in that state in recent weeks. Again, their total count for the number killed since the start of the war is really the only thing anyone should cite because since the last big crash, they've done bare minimum and their state totals for deaths are all wrong, ALL WRONG. Their Iraqi civilian and security forces death toll is (as already noted) a joke. These are all things a real reporter would have noticed but Basu isn't a real reporter. Basu just does stenography and calls that reporting.

Bonnie reminds that Kat's "Kat's Korner: Joni Mitchell's unearthed treasure" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Rolling In It" went up yesterday. When Ty's on vacation (as he was last week), e-mails get backed up at Third. Jess found something this morning that should have been noted at Third and we'll note it here. From ETAN:

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared - Detainees (FEDEFAM)Federation against disappearances, meets President Ramos-Horta, urges treaty ratification25 November 2009, Dili, East Timor
"Every family in my country has someone disappeared. I myself have two brothers who disappeared."
These were words of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta in a meeting yesterday with the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) whose local member is HAK Association. The president made a clear commitment that he would undertake all efforts to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance before the end of 2009.
He noted that had he been alerted earlier, the government of Timor-Leste could have already been a state party. The team, which included a representative from the Latin American Federation of Associations of Relatives of Disappeared – Detainees (FEDEFAM), asked the President to facilitate that Timor-Leste be one of the first 20 countries to ratify the international treaty which provides the right to truth and the right not to be subjected to enforced disappearances. The AFAD Chairperson, Mugiyanto said that the Indonesian and the Timor-Leste- governments established a Truth and Friendship Commission. The joint commission, which recommends the establishment of a Commission on Disappearances, would be guided by the treaty, if ratified.
Khurram Parvez of the AFAD member-organization in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir greeted President Ramos-Horta with admiration as the latter is considered by the Kashmiri people who are fighting for independence, as an icon. Looking up to President. Ramos-Horta as exemplary world leader, Parvez appealed to the president to ratify the international treaty and for the president to appeal to other Nobel Peace Laureates and other Asian heads of states to endorse the treaty criminalizing enforced disappearances. President Ramos-Horta assured that he would write to other heads of states and Nobel Peace Prize winners.To date, the Convention has been signed by more than 80 governments and 16 have ratified the treaty. To enter into force, it needs 4 more ratifications.
If Timor-Leste is a party to this Convention within this year, it will mark history to be one of the first 20 countries to ratify it. If realized, the ratification of East Timor will go a long way towards helping the victims of conflict who continue to cry for truth, justice, reparation and the reconstruction of their historical memory.
The delegation is composed of Mugiyanto (IKOHI-Indonesia), Mary Aileen D. Bacalso (Secretary-General, Philippines), Khurram Parvez (APDP-Kashmir); Rosanna Santos Contreras (Philippines); Ruth Llanos vda. de Navarro (FEDEFAM-Bolivia). AFAD is a regional federation of human rights organizations working directly on the issue of enforced disappearances with nine members from seven Asian countries.
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

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