Thursday, April 07, 2011

5 US soldiers have died this month

Sunday the US military announced 2 service members in Iraq had died and Monday they announced a third had died. The Defense Department identified two of the three on Tuesday. "Sgt. Jorge A. Scatliffe, 32, of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, died April 3 in a non-combat related incident at Mosul, Iraq. He was assigned to the 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas." "Capt. Wesley J. Hinkley, 36, of Carlisle, Pa., died April 4 in Baghdad, Iraq, as a result of a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, Fort Stewart, Ga." Yesterday they identifed the third fallen: "Spc. Gary L. Nelson III, 20, of Woodstock, Ga., died April 5 in Mosul, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga." Three deaths got attention. But there were actually at least 5 deaths this month according to DoD. Yesterday, they issued the following:

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation New Dawn. They died April 2 of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their position with indirect fire in Babil, Iraq.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Quadi S. Hudgins, 26, of New Orleans, La.

Sgt. Christian A. S. Garcia, 30, of Goodyear, Ariz.

They were assigned to the Maintenance Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas.

For more information media should contact the III Corps public affairs office, Fort Hood, Texas, at 254-287-0106 or 254-287-9993.

Meanwhile David Stewart, Kristy Sampels and Jordan Stewart were found dead on Tuesday in the state of Washington. David Stewart was an Iraq War veteran. Stacia Glenn (News Tribune) reports he served two tours in Iraq while Samples was a registered nurse who worked at Mountain View Hospital where the two met. They married and Jordan was their five-year-old son. Police say David Stewart shot and killed his wife, someone asphyxiated their child with a plastic bag and David Stewart shot himself. From the article:

Stewart’s sister, Kim Sileo of Florida, said Jordan was a “daddy’s boy” and the two loved horsing around.
She said Sampels called her Monday night looking for Stewart because the couple had a big argument and Stewart hadn’t yet come home.
She awoke in the morning with a missed call from a phone number with a 253 area code, but nobody answered when she called back.
An investigator called soon after to tell her what had happened.
“The brother I know would never hurt anybody,” Sileo said. “He was a survivor. He struggled his whole life to become somebody and he always wanted to be a hero.”

Gene Johnson (AP) adds, "Investigators spent Wednesday trying to piece together the gruesome events. They said they believed one of the parents killed the boy but they aren't certain which one." Christine Clarridge (Seattle Times) reports that the police doubt they'll be able to figure out who killed the five-year-old but "Stewart's father, Army Sgt. David Stewart, apparently shot the boy's mother in the head during a high-speed chase with State Patrol troopers Tuesday morning. Stewart killed himself as a trooper approached his disabled car, which had crashed after its tires had been blown out by lawmen trying to end the 100-mph pursuit."

Today Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reports that the number of veterans' disability claims taking over four months to process has not only increased, it has doubled. He quotes Senator Patty Murray stating, "Without question, I believe that the VA disability claims system is broken." Murray has severed on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and now is the Chair of the Committee. She knows what's she's talking about. She also knows that the computer system the House and Senate Committees heard about over and over were supposed to assist with the numbers going the other way and that the VA has repeatedly stated that they do not need more employees. In fact, not only have they repeatedly refused more employees, they've stated that taking on new claims processor would actually delay the process even more because people would have to train them slowing down the process even further. Yesterday's snapshot noted the VA's Scott Gould's appearance before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Tuesday. According to his testimony (which I've already judged dubious -- see yesterday's snapshot), a government shutdown will not effect the time to process disability claims in any significant manner based on the 90s shutdown.

And we'll note this from the latest "Hints from Heloise" (King Features Syndicate):

DEAR HELOISE: I really appreciated the hint that was sent in concerning mowing the lawn for families in mourning. This would be a great aid to families of deployed service members as well. When my husband was in Iraq and I had four small children and a large yard, mowing was my most difficult chore. My mom and I love your column and discuss the newest on most days.

– C.L. Scott, Temple, Texas

DEAR C.L.: A big Heloise hug for military spouses from me.

That's appearing in many papers this week (one example). Heloise may be the only national columnist who has never forgotten the war. That's probably due, in part, to the fact that she listens to her readers and despite the media's walk-away from the Iraq War, the people do know it continues. It's also probably due to the fact that her own father served in the Air Force which makes it very easy for her to relate to those with family serving today.

The following community sites -- Jane Fonda, The NewsHour, War News Radio,, World Can't Wait and On The Wilder Side -- updated last night and this morning:

Reminder: 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

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends