Members of the Minnesota Patriot Guard lined the sidewalk outside the church holding American flags before the service and later got on their motorcycles to lead the funeral procession to Little Falls.
The service was a traditional Catholic Mass that lasted about an hour.
The question we have today is why, said the Rev. Bernie Gruenes, who officiated. The service included Bishop John Kinney of the Diocese of St. Cloud.
"Why did this happen to a young man of 35 years that should have had many more years on Earth?"
Joe Nelson (KSAX) reports that over 100 people attended the services and quotes Kimberly Schmit who states, "I know how the family feels. I'm here to show support for the family. And also, find some closure, some healing, and be a part of the Patriot Guard riders who supported our family." Her son, Sgt Joshua A. Schmit, died from a Faulluja roadside bombing while serving in Iraq.
Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum (WHAS11 -- link has text and video) returned from Iraq six months ago and is now planning a cross coutnry walk to raise money and awareness for veterans issues, the money going to Soldiers' Angels. He tells WHAS 11, "I think we’re all struggling because of the economy. However, the veterans are coming back and not finding good jobs. Those that have already served in the National Guard or the Reserves and finished their tour of duty are now basically, they're losing their jobs because they're going under." Katya Cengel (Courier-Journal) reports that while he was in Iraq, he noted a certain type of razor he used in the US and that a donor to Soldiers' Angels ensured that some were sent to him in Iraq. He is planning to walk cross country, over 7000 miles. For more information, refer to the website The Hike for our Heroes.
Tim Jones and Jason Grotto (Chicago Tribune) zoom in on PTSD and note, "Last year, mental illnesses accounted for 35 percent of the $22 billion spent on disability payments to veterans who served in the Vietnam, Persian Gulf and 'global war on terror' eras, according to a Tribune analysis." The cost of treatment is, of course, expected to rise. The real question is not what the Tribune is doing (analyzing and reporting) but what the US government is doing to prepare for this rise? Meanwhile Gretel C. Kovach (San Diego Union-Tribune) reports that with PTSD plaguing "one in five veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars," researchers are attempting to determine if there are certain factors that make some service members more or less likely to develop PTSD.
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We'll close with this from KPFK's Leo Paz (and for audio and for the full text, click here):
Seven years on after the second U.S. invasion of Iraq the Americans continue slaughtering civilians, now in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Recently the video of the massacre of 12-15 Iraqis by an US helicopter gunship in 2007 began making the rounds thanks to Wikileaks.org. Episodes like what is shown in that video have been denounced by for years now.
On March 20th thousands of people marched on the streets of Los Angeles to denounce the criminal US wars around the world. Among the protesters, many Iraq military vets with IVAW came out to tell their stories of the carnage of US wars.
Marine corporal Cameron Wood, from Minnesota, was part of a tank unit in the invasion in 2003 and in the siege of Fallujah in 2004. He talked about how US army officers gave orders to fire on any Iraqi, opposing the invasion or not.
"As part of the invasion there would be a lot of times when they would have what they called a free-fire zone when we were told to shoot at anybody that we saw, whether they were shooting at us or not, they were supposed to be considered enemies because apparently they had been told to go inside," Wood said.
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gretel c. kovach