Thursday, March 11, 2010

Veterans issues

On Wednesday, an American journalist for Al-Jazeera criticized the American news media’s coverage of recent Iraqi elections and warned of a possible civil war in northern Iraq after the U.S. military withdraws most of its troops later this year.
Josh Rushing, a UT alumnus, spoke before a crowd of about 40 in the Texas Union.
Rushing recently returned from Iraq after reporting on the state of the country prior to its elections Sunday. He said that while there, he saw evidence that a civil war may soon break out in northern Iraq between Kurdish forces and the Iraqi military over control of major oil fields in the region.

The above is from Michael Moran's "Reporter challegnes US media coverage of Iraq" (Daily Texan) and use the link to find out what Rushing thinks accounts for voting in Iraq. Meanwhile, I know I heard the VA tell Congress -- lie to Congress -- that all but 1,000 claims for the fall semester had been settled, that they were in constant contact with those one thousand and that the problems wouldn't repeat this semester. That was January 21st. Greg Zerman, Tania Cervantes and Robert Tomano (The Guardsman) report on veterans at San Francisco's City College and not only are delays still taking place, there's one veteran they speak with who has still not received fall semester (2009 fall semester) benefits:

Jordan Towers is a City College history student who joined the Marines after graduating high school.
"I wasn't ready for college and I needed funds,” Towers said. “Money is a huge reason why people join."
Towers had to wait three months to obtain his benefits during his first semester at City College.
"They provide, but they are really slow," he said.
Some student veterans like Anthony Meade have faced eviction because of these delays in payment.
"I received the benefits only with intense hardships," Meade said. "I did get them, but only after Senator Dianne Feinstein's office intervened to the Veterans Affairs on my behalf, and that was really the reason I got paid."
A veteran who who will be referred to as George because his claim with the VA is still pending, , said he is tired of waiting.
"They keep telling me, 'just a little longer,' but my landlord doesn't want to hear that anymore,” George said. "It's not like I'm asking for a handout. I was promised these benefits when I enlisted."

When George calls the VA, he gets an answering machine and, despite leaving messages, no call is returned. The same thing happened to the reporters when they attempted to contact the VA. In the January 21st Congressional hearing, Subcommittee Chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Ranking Member John Boozman addressed the issue of time management specifically with regards to incoming phone calls. Obviously, no one was listening.

Earlier this week, two US service members died in Iraq. Yesterday, DoD identifed the fallen:

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Pvt. Nicholas S. Cook, 19, of Hungry Horse, Mont., died March 7 in Konar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Camp Ederle, Italy.
For more information the media may contact the U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army public affairs office at 011-49-6221-57-8694, or via e-mail at

Lily Gordon (Ledger-Enquirer) quotes Spc Lakeshia M. Bailey's father Tony Bailey stating, "She was just a fun person to be around. She was always outgoing and she was always looking for, I guess I would say an adventure. Something to keep her going all the time. That's how we'll remember her." Lindsey Connell (WTVM -- link has text and video) quotes Bailey's mother Phyllis Bailey stating, "She always wanted to go into the military because my husband was in the military for 24 years. Now he's retired but she wanted to follow dad. She was a military brat." South Carolina's The State notes that Sgt Aaron Arthur was "the 63rd member of the U.S. military with S.C. ties to die in the Iraq war." Samantha Shepard (SCNow -- link has text and video) quotes Aaron Arthur's his school caoch Matt Apicella stating, "He was such a hard worker. He always kept in touch and came by the weight room in the summers to let us know how he was doing."

Yesterday's snapshot has already resulted in an e-mail from someone who's highly upset. You want to be quoted, you say that in your e-mail. But I don't play on the topic of children so you better know I will respond to your e-mail at length if we share your thoughts here. (I am not writing you a private e-mail. You think you're special, I don't.) I sat through the ridiculous Tuesday hearing and the ridiculous testimony. I was actually kind in the snapshot and delayed covering Tuesday evening's hearing until Wednesday to get some breathing space.

Here's a few realities for those doing 'studies' (as those testifying before Congress and as the one who e-mailed last night).

1) Don't tell us, X is happier than Y.

Where are the numbers? You couldn't offer numbers could you? Couldn't offer percentages. Doing so would undercut your presentation before Congress. So you give general statements on an alleged study. People aren't stupid. Most of us automatically register when someone's speaking of a study but refusing to deal in hard numbers.

2) Those studies weren't about the children.

If those studies were about the children, they would have included the children of National Guard members especially. Why 'especially'? One study sells that with the second deployment (and every one after), it is easier for children to see their parents deployed. Is that true of the Guard families? They're much less connected to the base experience the studies attempt to sell.

3) Women don't need to be guilt-tripped or told what to do.

Starting with mothers whose husbands or partners are deployed. Women are conditioned by the media to doubt themselves. That's why we need every monthly issue of a 'women's' magazine to tell us how to apply make up. As if either the techniques or our faces change every month? We're told to doubt ourselves and that's what those studies encourage. Those studies do not breed trust. They want a cookie cutter 'solution' they can point to and guilt trip women over. Children are not 'one box' and those simplistic studies were insulting in that regard. In addition, did the study measure a child's satisifaction or did they measure a child's ability to tell someone they were satisified? And if you're taking part in a military survey and your parent is in the military, how honest are you going to be?

Now let's turn to the topic of men. Some mothers are being deployed today and some fathers in the US are the ones responsible for raising the children. This situation can already throw someone and these studies can only further that. I don't see how the studies are helpful for mothers or fathers with deployed spouses or partners.

4) The military shouldn't have been put over these studies.

The message sent by both witnesses was how this can help the military. I thought the issue was the children of deployed soldiers? That's why you don't put the military in charge of these studies and our tax payer dollars do not need to be wasted on that s**t ever again. There are people trained in childhood development -- they work in the civilian world. And they wouldn't be telling Congress, for example, that they left out this or that question because it made the survey's less 'easy.'

Now we can get real in depth on those 'studies.' The hearing was Tuesday. Before I dictated Wednesday's snapshots, I'd read up on those studies. You can vent in private in an e-mail but I stand by my statements and if you want to 'correct' me, you better note that your comments can be shared here. But, if they are, please note I have the studies and we can go very deep into them.

Since yesterday evening, the following community sites have updated:

and the following on the theme of American Dad:

The Democratic Policy Committee offers daily videos and we'll note this one by Senator Byron Dorgan (who is the Chair of the DPC) on the topic of aviation safety.

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends