Wednesday, June 23, 2010

US military announces another death

Yesterday, the US military announced: "CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – A U.S. Division – North Soldier died yesterday as a result of a non-combat related injury. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." DoD issued the following: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Spc. Jacob P. Dohrenwend, 20, of Milford, Ohio, died June 21 at Balad, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. For more information, media may contact the Fort Riley public affairs office at 785-210-8867." The death brings to 4408 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war.

Meanwhile Jessica Warzeniak and Alexis Ann (Resident) report on Iraq War veteran Matthew Slaydon who was injured in an October 24, 2007 bombing resulting in the loss of one eye, his being blinded and an amputation on his left arm. They report:

So how does a wounded Airman from Phoenix, Arizona, find his way to Connecticut? The answer is Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, a non-profit guide dog school based out of Bloomfield. Fidelco, celebrating its 50th anniversary, pioneered In-Community Placement, a process that allows guide dog users to stay in their own home, their own community, and be trained.
"I first met Fidelco at the Blind Veterans Association conference. I talked to the staff at the Fidelco booth. I also met several veterans wounded before me who received guide dogs from Fidelco," said Matt. "Fidelco is the only one that does home placement. Having them help me learn in my own area makes a lot of sense."
Another reason Matt chose Fidelco for his guide dog was his love of German Shepherds – the only dogs that Fidelco breed and train as guide dogs. "I planned to get a Shepherd when I retired. They always impressed me. They are beautiful and smart dogs. I figured if I’m going to have one now, I may as well get what I always wanted."
Fidelco paired Matt with his guide dog, Legend. "Together, Legend and I are highly functional. It’s only been a couple of days, but imagine what it is going to be like in a couple of years," said Matt. "This is the first time I can get out and walk without hanging on to someone."

Though the veterans from the current war who have suffered vision loss or been left with hearing loss receive less attention than TBI or PTSD, they exist as they have in every war. In March 2007, Andrew Stephen (New Statesman) noted of US troops:

So far, more than 200,000 veterans from the current Iraq or Afghanistan wars have been treated at VA centres. Twenty per cent of those brought home are suffering from serious brain or spinal injuries, or the severing of more than one limb, and a further 20 per cent from amputations, blindness or deafness, severe burns, or other dire conditions. "Every person injured on active duty is going to be a long-term cost of the war," says Bilmes. If we compare the financial ramifications of the first Gulf war to the present one, the implications become even more stark. Despite its brevity, even the 1991 Gulf war exacted a heavy toll: 48.4 per cent of veterans sought medical care, and 44 per cent filed disability claims. Eighty-eight per cent of these claims were granted, meaning that 611,729 veterans from the first Gulf war are now receiving disability benefits; a large proportion are suffering from psychiatric illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Meanwhile Jim Tice (Army Times via USA Today) reports:

The Army wants to reduce combat zone deployments to nine months and increase the time in between to three years, Gen. George Casey, Army chief of staff, told Army Times.
"We're actively studying right now the timing and the possibilities of going to nine-month deployments as a standard," Casey said in an exclusive interview.

Oh, do they? And Casey's actively looking into it? Now? NOW?

Those with no memories or who haven't paid attention may be impressed with that nonsense. Anyone following the issue should be appalled. Let's drop back to the April 1, 2008 snapshot for the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health hearing when the Army Director Col Charles W. Hoge testified -- and we'll do a flashback within a flashback:

He [Hoge] did allow that "there was a very strong" relationship between experiencing a concussion in Iraq and then developing PTSD ("almost half" went on to develop PTSD). He also stated that "One of the issues with multiple deployments and the dwell time for soldiers when they've come back, we've learned from the research that we've done, [is] that 12 months is not enough time for soldiers to reset and go back for another deployment."
That's a very strong statement and it's one he would attempt to back off from when he was questioned about it later. At at time when the military repeatedly sends troops on second and third and fourth and fifth deployments to Iraq, if the medical doctor is stating twelve months is insufficient to reset, then there is a problem and that needs to be explored.
Most didn't. Rep [Shelley] Berkley did in her follow up questioning.
Berkely: Not enough time between tours of duty, did I hear you correctly?
Hoge: Yes . . . What we've found . . . Yes. That's what I said . . . The 12 months is insuf- . . . appears to be insufficient.
All ". . ." in Hoge's statements above indicate pauses. That's not noting that he's been edited. That was his stumbling response when someone rightly pressed him on the biggest news to emerge in the hearing.
Berkely asked him to "correct me if I'm wrong," about his statement and what's actually taking place, "but many are being called back in less that 12 months." She wanted to know if that was his "understanding as well?" And what wisdom did Hoge offer? "I don't know."
He'd told Congress that twelve months was insufficient time to redeploy, to reset and yet the US military continues to send to redeploy troops in twelve months or less. And Congress has been repeatedly told prior that this is a non-issue and certainly not an issue that Congress needs to address, told by witnesses trotted up before Congress. From the Feb. 28 snapshot, about the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Fiscal Year 2009 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Deptartment of the Army:
US House Rep Patrick Murphy was also concerned about readiness. He wanted to know specifically that, regardless of any upcoming announcements, would the length of tours be reduced. On Tuesday of this week, Casey and Geren appeared before the Senate's Armed Service Committee also offering testimony on the 2009 Fiscal Year. From that hearing, the only thing that the media picked up on was that tours in Iraq and Afghanistan would (maybe) drop from fifteen months to twelve months. (Some outlets picked up on the stop-loss issue, stop-loss will continue but they 'hope' to drop the numbers from 8,000 to 7,000 -- ignored was Senator Jim Webb's questioning of Casey which produced Casey's claim that the UCMJ had been applied to Defense Department contractors serving in Iraq.) Murphy wanted to know specifically with the Afghanistan War still going on, an incomplete serach for Osama bin laden, with "the majority of our military in Iraq," what happens "if we're still bogged down refereeing a civil war in Iraq?" And when Petraeus appears before Congress, Murphy wanted to know, "What happens" in terms of the reduction of tours of duty "if he comes back to us and says we need a 'pause' not a 'drawdown.' Casey maintained that regardless of a "a brief pause, as you say, that will not impact our ability to come off of 15 months . . . the most important thing for us to do is to come off 15 months."
Murphy noted that "we're begging for about 7,000 troops for Afghanistan from our allies" and wondered if Congress needed to "mandate that if you deploy for 15 months, you're home for 15 months, if you deploy for 12 months, you're home for 12 months"? Casey wasn't keen on that idea and claimed it would interfere with the military's ability to do their job. Which makes the 'promise' Casey and Geren made earlier this week seem even more hollow (even more hollow than Casey claimed, in today's hearings, his experiences in the seventies were).
Hoge admitted today that 12 months wasn't enough. When he was pressed on that statement, he attempted to back track and Congress has repeatedly been told not to worry about this issue, that the military is handling it. General Casey even said that for Congress to address it would tie the military's hands. If Congress isn't going to address this issue, who will?
Repeating from Hoge's testimony today, "One of the issues with multiple deployments and the dwell time for soldiers when they come back, we've learned from the research that we've done, [is] that 12 months is not enough time for soldiers to reset and go back for another deployment."

Over two years ago. And now Casey wants to 'consider' doing something? NOW?

The following community websites updated last night:

We'll close with this from Tim King's "Wall Street Journal Launches Special Tel Aviv Operation" (Salem-News):

It is the United Nations itself that stands in condemnation of Israel for war crimes during the winter 2008/2009 attack on Gaza that left over 1400 mostly civilian residents dead. The man who investigated the Gaza attack and wrote 'The GoldStone report' in addition to being a distinguished war crimes investigator, is a South African Jew; the honorable Judge Richard Goldstone.

It was a response to Hamas rocket attacks that killed seven Israelis. Seven Israeli soldiers died during the reprisal attack, 'Operation Cast Lead' from friendly fire, for a total of 14 Israeli dead. 14 lives were avenged by Israel with the deaths of more than 1400 lives, most civilian Palestinians, several hundred children among them.

Israel used white phosphorous and Depleted Uranium (DP) rounds illegally during the savage attack on people already living in a modern day concentration camp.

The Gaza Freedom Flotilla was simply the latest of many similar efforts, to break the blockade of Gaza, which is also illegal according to the United Nations. Some involve overland convoys, some use the sea, none are 'terrorist' missions as so many Israeli agencies falsely suggest.

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oh boy it never ends