Monday, April 05, 2010

The fallen honored by Michael Reagan, veterans issues

"I have a drawing over there right now that I have in my mind of a dad that I'm going to be drawing kissing the cheek of his daughter who will never see him again, a young, little girl. This is with me all the time," Michael Reagan explained to KPLU's Liam Moriarty on yesterday's All Things Considered. The Vietnam veteran and Seattle artist has drawn over "2,000 0f these portraits, the faces of nearly half the soldiers who've died in Iraq and Afghanistan." Both links have audio but, if you click here for KPLU, you will be able to see examples of the portraits Reagan has one. And clicking here takes to to Reagan's Fallen Heroes Project. And moving to the topic of the returning, Danielle M. Horn (Worcester Telegram & Gazette)reports on the newly built, $8 million Northeast Veteran Training & Rehabilitation Center which opened at the end of last year full of promises but whose program director, Michelle B. Wilmot, fears "has misled its residents" because the 'for free' services are in fact being performed for a fee, for as much as $500 per month:

A 28-year-old Army combat veteran recruited to lead the center, Ms. Wilmot said no licensed counselors have been working on-site with the four current residents, all of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries. Ms. Wilmot said she has felt "like a panhandler" as she seeks volunteers for services she believes should have been in place before the NVTRC opened its doors.
"I'm the only combat veteran in this company. It is personal to me," said Ms. Wilmot, a California native who last year was named "Outstanding Female Veteran of the Year" by the state Women Veterans’ Network. "I was pretty much given this building and told, 'All that stuff we advertised? Make it happen.'"

At Monthly Review, Robert Naiman notes US House Rep Bob Filner speaking on the House floor. Naiman provides a link to Filner but never refers to any figures Filner used (Bob Filner is the Chair of the US House Veterans Affairs Committee, by the way) but does note an estimate from Veterans for Common Sense. [Jess note added per C.I. Veterans for Common Sense advises they get documents via Freedom of Information.] We'll drop back to the March 22nd snapshot to note Filner's statements to Lila Garrett (on KPFK) about the actual number of wounded.

US House Rep Bob Filner: [. . .] in understanding this war, you have to understand the costs both in the material costs and the human costs. Our official statistics for Iraq and Afghanistan is that over 5,000 have been killed, almost 40,000 injured. Now take that 40,000. Compare that with almost a million veterans of this war who have already come to the Veterans Administration hospital seeking care for injuries and conditions suffered in the war. I mean, compare a million versus 40,000. I mean, that's not just a rounding error, that's a deliberate attempt to mislead us on the nature of the war and its cost. And out of that million who have come to the VA, several hundred thousand who have brain injury, several hundred thousand have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and they were not diagnosed before they left the battlefield. And that's a purposeful ommission. If we don't evaluate them, then we don't know. And by the way, Lila, even earlier in the war when they were evaluating people, they deliberately changed the diagnosis from PTSD to what's called Personality Disorder. And a Personality Disorder means that you had this before you entered the armed services and therefore we didn't give it to you and, in fact, we don't even have to take care of you. Now that's a terrible crime perpetrated on these young men and women who have volunteered for service. When they get mental injuries, they're not recognized.

Apparently offering what Filner said on the House floor (the video Naiman links to) was too much work for someone so busy with 'actions' on how you can "Defend Obama". If you wonder why Naiman's not part of the peace movement, there's your answer. Faux 'actions' focused on glorifying Barack as opposed to efforts to end the Iraq War. Fresno's KFSN offers a video report on the Orange County send-off Friday for over 300 soldiers deploying to Iraq who fly to Iraq today. Maybe if they'll send some e-mails on behalf of Barack, Naiman might offer some faux concern on their behalf?

Afghanistan War veteran and Iraq War resister Matthis Chiroux has a new essay entitled "Beyond Flagatory" (World Can't Wait):

Since my burning of the American Flag in protest of the war and the U.S. Empire, I have been called both a sinner and a saint. Members of my movement, people who I love, have published letters and comments both in support and opposition of what I see as a righteous and timely stance.
Individuals have gone so far as to assert that my non-violent act of resistance to war and empire was indeed an act of war itself. I lament what I see as such a misconstrued analogy, and hope that in time people will see the folly of their condemnations.
The struggle to end war and the struggle to end U.S. Empire is one. As long as the latter exists, the former will be an inevitability as has been demonstrated since our founding. For too long as a movement, we have divided ourselves and diminished our message, for the sake of public image, at the cost of enough blood to stain every flag in history.
This cycle of violence will continue unbroken until a few are willing to stand against the many wielding little more than truth and a determined will to be free. I count myself among the few, but have faith that soon, we’ll be the many. One U.S. flag and my reputation as a leader is a small price to pay for a message of purity that may bring an empire at last to its knees.
I am no Martin Luther King, and shall not claim greatness before any person, but I will embody those examples left to us by greatness past, and will hold true to the cause of speaking truth to power, even if that power is embodied in my peers.
We will know peace within our lifetimes, but first, we must know truth. Truth is not a process of negotiation; it is not a compromise and it is not consensus. Truth comes from within, and with it the power to create new worlds and lay those of old to rest. It also comes with great personal sacrifice on behalf of those who carry its weight.

I think we've said it here (if I'm wrong, community members e-mail and we can go into the topic at length in a snapshot) but Matthis' actions are Constitutional and are not appalling. Appalling is not making a statement. Appalling is silence. Shameful is silence when you know you should speak out. Matthis made a big statement. Maybe if others would carry their weight he wouldn't have to carry all the burden? Matthis speech and actions are not the problem, the problems is the silence. Cindy Sheehan did an amazing job responding to the nonsense attacks on Matthis and Elaine Brower. Matthis earlier wrote about his DC rally actions here.

Speaking of the silence? Hey, where was Democracy Now!? Where was Amy Goodman? Thousands and thousands of us participated in protests across the country and we got a bulls**t headline out of it from Democracy Now -- the so-called war and peace report? Really? That's acceptable? More bad interviews with bad authors and bad filmmakers and we're still going to pretend Amy Goodman's doing her part? Explain to me how she gets away with an hourly, Monday through Friday show that does not regularly book IVAW as a guest, for example? Explain how the hell anyone mistakes her for anything but a self-promoter plugging yet another bad book that will yet again sell even less than the one before? Did we march in the streets all these years just so Amy Goodman could become a a freak show celebrity?

In England, where they still have something resembling free speech when it comes to criticizing the servants elected to work for them, Ruth Barnett (Sky News -- link has text and video) reports:

Lance Corporal Beharry told The Sun he was moved to act after the Prime Minister fidgeted during a two-minute silence.

"All that was going through my head was to knock him out. I decided I'd get his attention and let him know how I felt," he said.

"When he offered his hand to me I just turned round and walked away. I wanted him to think about his actions and it worked."

Had a US veteran said the same about Barack, Amy Goodman would spend an hour devoted to how the veteran had used a gun and make specious comparisons to his or her use of a gun in combat and militias in the US. Anything to allow her to continue to ignore the gang-rape of the 7-year-old girl in nearby (to her) Trenton, New Jersey. She hopes no one really notices that silence. She may get her wish since her show has less and less bearing on most listeners' lives.

Radio note: Deborah Amos is the author of the just released Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East. Monday, April 5th, Amos appears on The Exchange with Laura Knoy, New Hampshire Public Radio which first broadcasts at 9 a.m. EST. Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "These days, puppets pull the strings" went up last night.

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