Friday, April 15, 2011

Veterans issues

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

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) explains, "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. This week AM (Australia's ABC, link has text and audio) spoke with Charles William about the death of his son Jeremy. Charles William believes that the military culture creates a climate that tolerates suicides. 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.

Still on service member and veterans issues, US House Rep Bob Filner is the Ranking Member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee. His office released the following statement:

Washington, D.C. - Ranking Democratic Member Bob Filner introduced H.R. 805, legislation that would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to display an Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights in all prosthetic and orthotic clinics of the VA.
"All too often, we hear of veterans who are treated like second class citizens while seeking treatment at a VA medical facility. This greatly concerns me. I am also told that many veterans are not aware of the many benefits and services offered by VA to help them. That is why I have reintroduced H.R. 805 which would instruct the VA to inform veterans and educate employees at each VA prosthetics and orthotics clinic of the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights. It also requires VA to conduct outreach to veterans."

Meanwhile William Cole (Honolulu Star-Advertiser) reports Iraq War veteran Spc Beyshee O. Velez has entered a plea of guilty in the Iraq shooting death of KBR contractor Lucas Vinson, "Officials said the shooting occurred in a sport utility vehicle on base. Witnesses at a previous hearing testified that Velez then forced a driver out of a 15-passenger van that belonged to KBR and drove erratically at high speed around the sprawling base before getting stuck in a ditch."

I have seen and done things I want to forget
A Corporal whose nerves were shot
Climbing behind a fierce, gone sun
I seen flies swarming everyone
Soldiers fell like loads of meat
These are the words, the words are these
Death lingering, stunk
Flies swarming everyone
Over the whole summit peak
Flesh quivering in the heat.
This was something else again
I fear it cannot explain
The words that make, the words that make murder
What if I take my problem to the United Nations
What if I take my problem to the United Nations
What if I take my problem to the United Nations
-- "The Words That Maketh Murder," written by PJ Harvey, from her new album Let England Shake

Gavin Martin (Daily Mirror) profiles PJ:

Harvey's latest, Let England Shake, is as bold and brilliant an album as has been released this year. A timely journey through the past and present, it alights on locations in England, Turkey and Iraq as 41-year-old Polly ponders the bloody conflicts and associated losses that have marked her homeland's history.
The finely-woven music - incorporating elements of Jamaican, Kurdish, military and rebel songs - enhances the stark, heartbroken y often beautifully lyrical subject matter.
"I don't feel particularly rooted here," Polly muses. "I feel part of the whole world. No matter where we end up it's always likely that, particularly in Europe, if you go back a couple of hundred years you'll find we've come from somewhere else.
"As a writer, I think a lot of what is involved in your work is remaining open to instinct and following that, even if it takes you off the path you'd predesigned."

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

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends