Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Troy Yocum and other veterans issues

Friday Troy Yocum appeared on CNN (link is video). Troy is continuing his 53,000 mile walk across the nation and has raised $180,000 to assist military families and veterans.

He explained on CNN the reason he started his hike, "It was one single e-mail. I got an e-mail from my good friend, an Iraq War veteran. He lost his job, couldn't take care of his family. And I thought, 'I want to do something big to not only help him but also to help as many military families as possible.' And I just started drawing these maps, I thought it was a crazy idea but I thought maybe it's just crazy enough to catch on. And people see that someone is willing to walk across and back, maybe they'll start wanting to donate and start to care about these military families who are struggling."


(Troy Yocum photo taken by John Crosby)

Hike for our Heroes is a non-profit started by Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum who is hiking across the country to raise awareness and money for veterans issues. He began the walk last April. From the Facebook page:

Iraq War Veteran Troy Yocum, his wife Mareike and Emmie the super dog are hiking 7,000 miles across America to help military families in need. They took their first steps of the 16-month cross-country quest on April 17, 2010. Backed by corporate sponsors, many volunteers and support members, Team Hike for our Heroes/Drum Hike are taking on the challenge of raising needed funds by hiking 7000 miles across America. The journey will take 16 months passing through 31 states and 38 large cities. The team will have to average over 20 miles a day while enduring each season. Funds donated go through The Wish Upon A Hero Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization that seeks to supports the community of individuals working online who grant the needs and wants of others making a wish. We believe that no wish is too large, no hero is too small and that everyone can become a hero. The idea for the hike has been evolving since Troy joined the Army in 2001 but it is now when our economy is struggling and military families are in most need that he and his family will put one foot in front of another to connect and help struggling families. Help our mission by making a donation today!

Iraq War and Afghanistan War veteran Clay Hunt who took his own life March 31st. Paul Vercammen (CNN -- link has text and video) reported earlier this month on a memorial service was held for him this week at Loyola Marymount University:

Hunt's mother, Susan Selke, a former Texas school teacher projecting classroom calm, explained four of her son's close friends, including a bunkmate, were killed during his service. Selke believes Hunt suffered from extreme survivor's guilt.
"In my mind he is a casualty of war," she said. "But he died here instead of over there. He died as a result of his war experience. There is no doubt in my mind."
But Hunt's death will not be counted by the Pentagon as an official military suicide, since he left the Marines in 2009.

Kimberly Hefling (AP) explained, "Friends and family say he was wracked with survivor’s guilt, depression and other emotional struggles after combat." And the suicides are not limited to the US military. At Stars & Stripes' article on Clay Hunt this week, the following comment was left:

Sometimes all I think about is killing my self but I don't because my sailors rely on me. Fact is fact working long hours and no days off in long stretches works a person down. How many days in a row does the military expect from it is service members? Even going to seek help your leaders look at you like your jumping the chain of command because your seeking outside help for your problems. I have had many a butt chewing because I went to fleet and family to talk about issues I was having. Trying to cope with every day on the ship isn't easy if we were meant to live at sea we be born in the water. I think it should be look at as at least the service member is getting help and not being destructive.. Like I said in my post that was deleted when suicide happens I put 100% on the leadership. Remove the pressure the person won't kill them self's.

1-800-273-TALK is the military suicide hotline. Catilin Mullen (DeKalb Daily Chronicle) reports Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's Laurie Emmer is attempting to raise awareness on the issue of military suicides: "Hunt, who also was an IAVA member, was a 28-year-old Marine from Houston who served two tours of duty. He struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder but was an advocate for veterans and remained active with various charity groups. He was the last person his IAVA friends expected to succumb to extreme depression, Emmer said." And at a time when military suicides are at an all time high, it's really not smart to be cutting resources that provide a safety net. But . . . Jessica Mador (Minnesota Public Radio -- link has text and audio) reports, "The recent budget compromise reached to avert a government shutdown in Washington made steep cuts to a highly touted program that helps homeless veterans move into supportive housing."

Sunday, DoD released the following: "The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation New Dawn. They died of wounds suffered April 22, in Numaniyah, Iraq when insurgents attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas. Killed were: 1st Lt. Omar J. Vazquez, 25, of Hamilton, N.J.; and Pfc. Antonio G. Stiggins, 25, of Rio Rancho, N.M. For more information media may contact Fort Hood public affairs at 254-287-0106."

Kayla Anderson (KOB -- link has text and video) speaks with Army Specialist David Hughes who served with PFC Antonio Stiggins, "He always had a smile on his face and he was always laughing. [. . .] It don't matter where we was at or what we was doing, whether we was on a mission or whaterver . . . it would get him laughing and it would get him laughing so much that he literally would laugh for 10, 15 minutes at a time." Meanwhile Barry N. Dima (NBC Philadelphia) speaks with Omar J. Vazquez' sister Marisel who states, "He was such a great man and always wanted to fight for his country. He was so proud to be in the Army."

The following community sites -- plus Jane Fonda, Antiwar.com, War News Radio and On The Wilder Side -- updated last night and this morning:

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award.
He has a photo exhibit that is ongoing (until the end of May) in

Photographs by David Bacon

Addison Street Windows Gallery
2018 Addison Street (between Shattuck Av./ Milvia St.) Berkeley, CA
April 22 thru May 31, 2011

street encuentro / meet the artist --
Thursday, May 12, 6-8 PM, at the Windows

Addison Street Windows Gallery presents documentary photographs by David Bacon about indigenous migration to the United States from Mexico. Photographer and journalist David Bacon documents an important aspect of the reality of the migrant experience -- the creation of "transnational communities".

This candid and forthright documentation functions as a reality check, showing the human face of people and communities often stereotyped by hysteria and political controversy over immigration. Indigenous communities are often simply invisible, especially to city dwellers, although today anyone eating a lemon or strawberry is likely consuming the product of the labor of indigenous farm workers.

These photographs take us inside these communities and illuminate the ties that bind people together, the influence of their working conditions on migrants and their families, their health and their collective and personal struggles for better lives. Images in the project also show the social movements in Mexico that challenge the poverty and community displacement that make migration a question of basic human survival.

Beyond Borders is part of a larger project, Living Under the Trees, in which Bacon, over the last decade, has documented communities of indigenous migrants from Mexico, now living in rural California towns and working in the fields. The project contains thousands of images, many of which have been exhibited nationally. Beyond Borders contains 29 large digital color prints from this collection.

This exhibit is in the Addison Street Windows Gallery, located on Addison Street between Milvia Street and Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley's downtown Arts District. It can be viewed 24 hours a day from the sidewalk. The exhibit is free and wheelchair accessible.

For more information, contact:
David Bacon/ photographer dbacon@igc.org
Mary Ann Merker/ Civic Arts Coordinator MMerker@ci.berkeley.ca.us
Greg Morozumi/ curator gmorozumi@yahoo.com

Sponsored by the Civic Arts Program of the City of Berkeley in cooperation with the Civic Arts Commission. Living Under the Trees is a cooperative project with California Rural Legal Assistance and the Frente Indigena de Organizaciones Binacionales.

For more articles and images, see http://dbacon.igc.org

See also Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2008)
Recipient: C.L.R. James Award, best book of 2007-2008

See also the photodocumentary on indigenous migration to the US
Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)

See also The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends