Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The fallen, veterans issues

If you served in the US military and you were stop-lossed, you are owed additional money. That money needs to be claimed. DoD announces the date to file for that additional payment has been extended:

The deadline for eligible service members, veterans and their beneficiaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) has been extended to April 8, 2011, allowing personnel more time to apply for the benefits they've earned under the program guidelines.
The deadline extension is included in the continuing resolution signed by President Obama Friday, providing funding for federal government operations through April 8, 2011.
Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay was established to compensate for the hardships military members encountered when their service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss Authority between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. Eligible members or their beneficiaries may submit a claim to their respective military service in order to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in a Stop Loss status.
When RSLSP began on Oct. 21, 2009, the services estimated 145,000 service members, veterans and beneficiaries were eligible for this benefit. Because the majority of those eligible had separated from the military, the services have engaged in extensive and persistent outreach efforts to reach them and remind them to apply. Outreach efforts including direct mail, engaging military and veteran service organizations, social networks and media outlets, will continue through April 8, 2011.
To apply for more information, or to gather more information on RSLSP, including submission requirements and service-specific links, go to

Yesterday DoD issued the following: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation New Dawn. Cpl. Brandon S. Hocking, 24, of Seattle, Wash., died March 21 in As Samawah, Iraq, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga. For more information, the media may contact the Fort Stewart public affairs office at 912-435-9879 or after 4 p.m. call 912-767-8666." KOMO News offers a photo of Cpl Hocking. The News Tribune notes, "Hocking is the first service member with ties to Washington state or its military bases to die in Iraq since Aug. 22, according to News Tribune records. Seven Washington soldiers have died in Afghanistan during the same seven-month period, including a pair of military policemen who will be remembered today in a ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. In July, Hocking told an Army public affairs writer that he enjoyed his work fixing weapons at Contingency Operating Base Adder in southern Iraq. At the time, he was working in a unit that was taking on more responsibility by starting up mobile teams that would be charged with supporting soldiers at various bases." Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) reports, "He died just 10 days before his scheduled return home" and speaks with his sister Brianna and his grandmother Delores Pitts who says Hocking "enjoyed fixing up old cars, sketching and playing the acoustic and electric guitar."

Yesterday All Things Considered featured "'Suicide By Cop' Leads Soldier On Chase Of His Life" (NPR):

Melissa Block: NPR's Daniel Zwerdling has our story which he reported with T. Christian Miller of ProPublica.

DANIEL ZWERDLING: Brock Savelkoul came close to getting killed in a gun battle in Iraq, but he and his unit shot their way out of that one. At the time, he never dreamed that his showdown with come in a pasture in North Dakota.

Unidentified Woman: Put your hands in the air. In the air. Put your hands in the air. Do it now. Stop. Stop. Drop your weapon.

ZWERDLING: September 21st, 2010, Savelkoul steps out of his black Tacoma pickup and he squints. Squad cars from three counties and the Highway Patrol have chased him here. Now, he's run out of gas on the dirt road and he's trapped like an animal in their spotlights. The Highway Patrol captures the whole showdown on cameras in their cruisers. Savelkoul has six guns, including a semi-automatic assault rifle and hundreds of bullets.

A trooper named Norman Ruud and the others are crouching behind their doors.

Lieutenant NORMAN RUUD (North Dakota Highway Patrol): Drop the gun.

Unidentified Man: Drop the gun.

Lt. RUUD: Put the gun down.

ZWERDLING: As we're hearing you shout at Brock Savelkoul, you're aiming right at him with your shotgun.

Lt. RUUD: Yes. You're aiming center mass, center of body because you know that he's been trained to take lives and he has the ability to use the weapons that he has very effectively.

And you can read a text article by T. Christian Miller and Daniel Zwerdling at ProPublica.

The following community sites -- plus, Jane Fonda and War News Radio -- updated last night and this morning:

We'll close with this from David Swanson's "Wars cannot be both planned and avoided" (War Is A Crime):

Congress held an emergency meeting to defund NPR, and then did nothing as the President spent vastly more money on bombing Libya. President Obama didn't have to ask for the funding, because the Pentagon had enough lying around for just such an occasion.
A fundamental lie that keeps war going is the idea that we avoid war by preparing for it. "Speak softly and carry a big stick," said Theodore Roosevelt, who favored building a big military just in case, but of course not actually using it unless forced to.
This worked out excellently, with the few minor exceptions of Roosevelt's mobilization of forces to Panama in 1901, Colombia in 1902, Honduras in 1903, the Dominican Republic in 1903, Syria in 1903, Abyssinia in 1903, Panama in 1903, the Dominican Republic in 1904, Morocco in 1904, Panama in 1904, Korea in 1904, Cuba in 1906, Honduras in 1907, and the Philippines throughout Roosevelt's presidency.
The first people we know of who prepared for war — the Sumerian hero Gilgamesh and his companion Enkido, or the Greeks who fought at Troy (just prior to the original "Odyssey Dawn") — also prepared for the hunting of wild animals. Barbara Ehrenreich theorizes that,
". . . with the decline of wild predator and game populations, there would have been little to occupy the males who had specialized in hunting and anti-predator defense, and no well-trodden route to the status of 'hero.' What saved the hunter-defender male from obsolescence or a life of agricultural toil was the fact that he possessed weapons and the skills to use them. [Lewis] Mumford suggests that the hunter-defender preserved his status by turning to a kind of 'protection racket': pay him (with food and social standing) or be subject to his predations.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends