For more than six years, an all-volunteer army from North Texas schools, veterans organizations, churches and corporations has greeted every flight of troops on R&R from Iraq and Afghanistan into D/FW Airport, 2,300 straight days and counting. As of mid-December, more than 1 million service members have landed at D/FW Airport or Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, the other entry point of troops on midtour leave.
Tuesday's flight of 148 troops -- most of them appeared to be U.S. Army -- was marked by a special ceremony in which top Army leaders expressed their gratitude to the airport and the volunteers who have made a commitment almost as long as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The wars do continue and that's a huge figure. How sad that the story appears to have no traction outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth area media. Yesterday's snapshot noted Iraq War veteran Jeff Hanks, who went AWOL to draw attention to the issue of PTSD going untreated (as his was, despite repeated attempts to get treatment) had been ordered to deploy to Afghanistan and had told CBS News reports that he feels he has no choice but to deploy and that AP quoted Christina Hanks, Jeff's wife, stating he has checked into a residential treatment program. Jake Lowary (Leaf-Chronicle) reports Christian Hanks says that the military sent him to Cumberland Hall for PTSD treatment. From Lowary's report:
The IVAW group has said that four civilian mental health experts diagnosed Hanks with PTSD. His symptoms, Hanks said, include headaches and anxiety in large crowds. He has nightmares and trouble sleeping and has been unnecessarily mean to his daughters.
Rick Rzepka, spokesman for Fort Campbell, said Hanks would not deploy immediately, but would not discuss the case because of privacy rules.
Christina Hanks said her husband will be at Cumberland Hall for at least a week.
Iraq Veterans Against the War has posted this video.
The following community sites -- and NPR and Antiwar.com -- updated last night and this morning:
And we'l close with the from Andy Worthington's "Guantánamo Forever?" (World Can't Wait) on yesterday's anniversary:
On the 9th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, it may sound uncharitable to President Obama to be asking whether all plans to close the prison have failed, and to be asking whether it might remain in operation for as long as anyone can foresee.
After all, the President may have failed to close it within a year of taking office, despite promising to do so in an executive order on his second day in the White House, but he and his spokespeople continue to assert that it remains their intention to close it.
In reality, however, it is reasonable to propose that Guantánamo is now a permanent institution for a variety of reasons. The first concerns a number of cynical moves by lawmakers in recent months, inserting provisions into a military spending bill that are explicitly designed to keep Guantánamo open — a ban on using funds to transfer Guantánamo prisoners to the U.S. mainland to face trials, a ban on using funds to buy or build a prison on the U.S. mainland to hold Guantánamo prisoners, and a ban on the release of any prisoner cleared for release by the President’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force (composed of representatives of government departments and the intelligence agencies) to countries considered dangerous by lawmakers — including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
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