Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Veterans' issues

An Afghanistan War veteran recently died of rabies which he apparently got while serving in Afghanistan. Katherine Rosario (KSAL) reports, "Irwin Army Community Hospital is seeking to identify and treat Soldiers and civilians potentially exposed to the rabies virus while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan after March 2010." Karl Man (KWCH -- link has text and video) explains, "The virus is spread from the saliva of an infected animal to a cut or scrape on humans. The concern is with roaming dogs and cats in places where U.S. soldiers are stationed. Officials said they still have soldiers voluntarily coming in for precautionary measures asking for the vaccine." Another important development for service members is stop-loss pay. The deadline has been extended repeatedly in an attempt to provide those who served under stop-loss with a chance to receive the money they're owed. From the DoD announcement:

The Oct. 21, 2011, deadline for eligible service members, veterans and their beneficiaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) is one month away. The deadline was previously extended to allow those eligible more time to apply for the benefits they have earned under the program guidelines.
“The nation has rallied behind this effort -- the military services have been joined by the White House, Congress, the VA, veteran and military service organizations, and friends and family members around the world,” said Lernes Hebert, director of Officer and Enlisted Personnel Management. “Despite these remarkable outreach efforts, some people may still not yet have applied. If you think you are eligible, and have not yet applied, now is the time to do so.”
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 include multiple direct mailings, public service announcements, and continuous engagements with military and veteran service organizations, social networks and media outlets.
To apply, or for more information on RSLSP, including submission requirements and service-specific links, go to .

So the deadline now is October 21st. They could extend it again, but they probably won't. Had they wanted to, they could have cut checks. Their records do tell them who was stop-lossed. This was tracked. Under Robert Gates's tenure as Secretary of Defense, he was expected to have accurate numbers when he came before the House Armed Service Committee in 2007 and 2008. They were very thorough in their questioning of him and in conveying what their expectations were. So the DoD could cut checks tomorrow with no applications necessary. What they hope, by doing the public announcements, is that they will save money because some people will forget, some won't hear about it and some will assume the paper work will be a hassle (the paper work is actually streamlined so don't let that stop you) so they won't file and the government will save money (or not pay money they owe) as a result. If you were stop-lossed or know someone who was, the new deadline is October 21st.

For any veteran returning to civilian life is an adjustment, for some there is more to adjust than for others. In addition, adjustments are made by the veteran's loved ones. Catrin Einhorn's "Looking After the Soldier, Back Home and Damaged" (New York Times) notes the changes and adjustments some loved ones address:

"The biggest loss is the loss of the man I married," Ms. [April] Marcum said, describing her husband [Tom Marcum] now as disconnected on the best days, violent on the worst ones. "His body's here, but his mind is not here anymore. I see glimpses of him, but he’s not who he was."
Ms. Marcum has joined a growing community of spouses, parents and partners who, confronted with damaged loved ones returning from war who can no longer do for themselves, drop most everything in their own lives to care for them. Jobs, hobbies, friends, even parental obligations to young children fall by the wayside. Families go through savings and older parents dip into retirement funds.
Even as they grieve over a family member's injuries, they struggle to adjust to new routines and reconfigured relationships.

Community sites -- plus NPR,, On The Wilder Side and Random Notes -- updated last night and this morning:

No, that's not everyone. All the community sites below except for Third updated last night or this morning:

And we'll close with an excerpt from Thaddeus Russell's "Empire of the Son" (IHC):

Shortly after divorcing Obama’s father, Dunham married Lolo Soetoro, the son of an upper-class Javanese family and a lieutenant in the Indonesian army, who in 1962 was sent by the Indonesian government to study at the East-West Center. Scott tells this story but omits what made the liaison possible. At the time, the Kennedy Administration, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), was sending tens of millions of dollars per year to the Indonesian government in an attempt to win its loyalty against similar bribery from the Soviet Union. Much of that funding was used to send elite Indonesian students, such as Soetoro, to American schools. In particular, to schools—such as the East-West Center—that worked directly with U.S. intelligence and security agencies and trained foreign students to teach American business methods and philosophies back in their home countries.

In 1966 Soetoro returned to Indonesia to work for the military, which had just carried out mass executions of communists and suspected communists. Scott does not mention that according to a congressional report, 1,200 of the Indonesian military officers who organized and led this purge, which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, had been trained in U.S.-based counterinsurgency programs, or that many of the weapons used in the killings were supplied by Washington. The elimination of communists, who had violently protested U.S. influence in Indonesia, cleared the way for a greater influx of American and American-trained nation builders, such as Soetoro and Dunham. Obama’s mother and stepfather were the velvet glove of “development” covering the iron fist of state violence.

In 1967 Dunham moved with Obama to join her husband in Jakarta, and she soon took a job at a school operated by the USAID. Obama wrote in his 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father that the move was part of “the promise of something new and important” for his mother, namely “helping her husband rebuild a country in a charged and challenging place beyond her parents’ reach.” Dunham taught English to Indonesian businessmen to prepare them for U.S.-sponsored training in American business schools. It is well documented that during this period the USAID and CIA worked together closely in developing pro-American elites in Indonesia and elsewhere. One of those pro-American elites was Obama’s stepfather, who sometime in the late 1960s or early ’70s began working as the governmental liaison in the Jakarta offices of the California-based Union Oil Company.

Obama’s mother spent several years at the USAID school, then took a series of jobs—all sponsored directly or indirectly by U.S. government agencies—studying and promoting American-style economic development in rural Indonesia. Through the 1970s Dunham worked on a string of projects funded by the USAID; then in 1981 she was hired by the Ford Foundation’s Southeast Asia regional office in Jakarta to help develop microfinance programs in rural Indonesia. The Ford Foundation’s entanglement with the CIA during this period has always been public knowledge, with journalists, academic scholars, and congressional investigators documenting a long history of covert funding and what the sociologist James Petras has called “a close structural relation and interchange of personnel at the highest levels between the CIA and the Ford Foundation.” A 1976 congressional investigation showed that close to half of the foundation’s international projects were funded by the agency. Dunham left the foundation in 1988 to work as a consultant and research coordinator for Bank Rakyat Indonesia, with her work again funded by the USAID. In narrating Dunham’s and Soetoro’s careers, Scott consistently fails to mention the intimate connections between Obama’s parents and U.S. agencies or, more important, to notice that an expansive U.S. foreign policy created Obama’s world.

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