Thursday, December 16, 2010

The wounded, the fallen

At NPR, Deborah Amos reports (text only) on a group of Iraq War veterans who were wounded in the war making another visit to the country in hopes of finding closure: "When soldiers sustain traumatic injuries, the psychological damage may be the hardest to repair. This program is designed to heal the deepest wounds by providing veterans with a week in Iraq, which includes a visit to the place where they sustained the injuries that dramatically changed their lives." DoD's [PDF format warning] official number for wounded in action in the Iraq War is 32,000 (you add OIF and OND figures together). The real total is probably much, much higher. estimates the number wounded at over 100,000. The Defense Dept has many ways of 'massaging' the count to keep it down. In 2008, Pia Malbran (CBS News) reported on this topic as DoD released new figures:

Defense Department spokesperson Cynthia Smith, however, told CBS News the numbers must be carefully interpreted. Smith said the 38,631 "non-hostile-related medical air transports" are not casualties of war even though they are listed in the DoD's "casualty" documents because, she says, they were for "injuries not related to service, they were unrelated to combat."

4433 is DoD's figure for the number of US service members killed in Iraq. One of the fallen is Sgt Michael Ferschke, another is Spc Morganne McBeth.

Charlie Reed and Chiyomi Sumida (Stars and Stripes) report
that Ferschke's widow has finally -- by an act of Congress (not joking) -- been allowed to reside in the US with their son. That's providing Barack signs it into law -- it passed the House yesterday (the Senate earlier this month):

Congress move essentially grants an exemption to U.S. law that will allow Hotaru Ferschke to relocate from Okinawa to the Tennessee hometown of her husband, Sgt. Michael Ferschke.
"I kept my promise to my son. This is what makes me feel so much better than anything," said Robin Ferschke, Michael's mom, who has been fighting to help her daughter-in-law move to the U.S. "I am sure my son is proud of me."

WBIR adds, "The effort to pass the measure in the House appeared dead for the year, but Knoxville Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. was able to secure a final vote with just hours remaining in the current 111th Congress" and they quote Duncan stating, "This is something that everyone has wanted to support all through this process, and it is a great moment for this family. Helping people caught up in extraordinary circumstances like the Ferschke's is one of the most basic and important jobs of Congress, and I am so grateful for all the bipartisan support in the House and Senate."

Spc Morganne McBeth was killed in Iraq as well and apparently by those she served with. Drew Brooks (Fayetteville Observer) reports that Spc Tyler Cain faced an Article 32 hearing yesterday at Fort Bragg: "Prosecutor Capt. Mike Lovelace argued that Cain lied to officials investigating the death of Spc. Morganne McBeth by giving two versions of the events that led to her death. Cain's lawyers, including Maj. Greg Malson, argued that Cain only clarified his earlier statements and that there was no intent to deceive investigators." Wisdom Martin (Fox) reports Lovelace is charged with conspiracy and Spc Nicholas Bailey with involuntary manslaughter. He also quotes Sylvia McBeth (Morganne's mother) stating of the military, "They're still trying to cover this thing up from us because they're still not contacting us and letting us know anything. We did not even know there was going to be a hearing today."

The following community sites -- plus the Guardian, War News Radio, Watching America, Jane Fonda, The Diane Rehm Show and the Socialist Worker -- updated last night and this morning:

And from the Senate Democratic Policy Committee's video page, we'll note Senator Kay Hagan on the national debt.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends