Friday, October 21, 2011

Veterans and service members

David Wood continues his Beyond The Battlefield series at The Huffington Post with "As Veterans Fight For Needed Care, Long-Term Funding Remains A Question." We'll note the opening which reminds of the smoke and mirrors game at the start of the wars:

Three days after Sept. 11, 2001, Congress met to authorize giving the president the power to respond with "all necessary and appropriate force" to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. It was, in effect, a declaration of the war that has now lasted a decade. In a rhetorical cascade that went on for five hours, hundreds of politicians of both parties joined the war fervor, demanding that troops be sent to "crush" the perpetrators and their supporters.

Only one person, a now-retired Democratic congresswoman, took time to observe that war would create a new generation of wounded veterans who would need lifetime care, and that Congress ought to agree to pay those bills before sending young Americans into battle.

"There will be casualties, both physical and psychological," said Rep. Darlene Hooley of Oregon. "Let us ensure that when they come home Congress honors their sacrifice, not solely with parades, but for the rest of their lives."

That didn't take place. As late as 2004, the 'fact checker' was trashing Democratic Party presidential candidate John Kerry for pointing out that the costs of veterans care wasn't provided for, wasn't factored in. They have blood on their hands forever more. They've never apologized, they've never issued a retraction. And in 2004, when Kerry was raising the issue, they allowed it to go buried by attacking him as they rushed to defend Bush and insist that all was well.

A whole new group of veterans were created and the bill for treatment and care still hasn't ben honestly addressed. But good news, if you are the director of a VA Medical Center and you waste $24,000 because you lose the keys to the new locks, all you do is show up before Congress and explain that you're now raising your nine-year-old grandchild and the VA and the White House are a-okay with that 'explanation.' The same as they're fine with you killing the golf cart rides for veterans from your torn up, trailer-filled parking lot to the front of the facility while you decided to spend $2.5 million on renovating your offices. Even better, the VA's a-okay with your appearing before Congress and repeatedly denying these renovations are planned even when the Congressional Committee has a copy of the contract for those renovations. The VA loves a liar on staff. (If you're late to the party, see yesterday's snapshot.)

Along with increasing the number of wounded and disabled veterans, the current wars have increased the number of female veterans. However, female veterans are not a new development. In Maine yesterday, Diana Bosch (WABI -- link is text and video) reports, a ceremony was held to honor women veterans and Bosch notes that there are 10,000 women veterans from Maine alone.

On active duty service memebers, Sarah Lazare (Al Jazeera) reports:

"My experience reporting military sexual assault was worse than the actual assault," says Jessica (a pseudonym for her protection), a former marine officer and Iraq veteran who left the military because of her command's poor handling of her assault charges. "The command has so much power over a victim of sexual assault. They are your judge, jury, executioner and mayor: they own the law. As I saw in my case, they are able to crush you for reporting an assault."

Jessica is joining a civil lawsuit bringing claims against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, charging that under their watch the military failed to adequately and effectively investigate rapes and sexual assaults within the ranks.

The litigation, which was filed in Virginia district court in February of this year by the law office of Susan Burke, is set to go to trial in the coming months. The initial suit named 16 plaintiffs, all former or current military service members - but in recent months that number has swelled to more than 30, as more and more veterans come forward as survivors of sexual assault.

These plaintiffs join the growing crescendo of veterans, military service members, spouses and their advocates speaking out against the problem of widespread sexual assault and rape in the US military.

And that's on service members. Not just female ones. Men are victims of sexual assault within the ranks as well and the civil case has at least one male plaintiff. And, of course, Sarah Lazare is with Courage to Resist whose have released the new book About Face. On the subject of sexual assault, Feminist Majority issued the following:

Press Release
Thursday, October 20, 2011

Francesca Tarant, 703.522.2214,
Jessica Stites, 310.556.2515,

FBI's UCR Subcommittee votes unanimously to recommend change on rape definition

The Uniform Crime Report Subcommittee of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) has voted unanimously to recommend a new, more inclusive definition of Rape in the UCR Report. The recommendation will be considered at a public meeting of the CJIS Advisory Policy Board in December. If approved, it will be forwarded to FBI Director Robert Mueller who will make the final decision.

The vote came after years of urging by feminist organizations, spearheaded for more than a decade by the Pennsylvania-based Women's Law Project and reinforced by the Feminist Majority Foundation, the National Center for Women and Policing, and Ms. magazine.

This past year, the Rape is Rape campaign, launched by the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. Magazine and picked up by petition website resulted in nearly 140,000 emails to the FBI and the Department of Justice urging the change. FBI officials noted that they had received emails from around the United States and even the world on the issue.

The current definition from the 1920s, which has been criticized for underreporting rape and omitting a significant number of rape cases, defined "forcible rape" only as "the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will." The proposed UCR definition of what constitutes rape will be more consistent with public understanding and state criminal statutes and will include previously excluded rape cases.

"Although long overdue, we are pleased that the FBI has vetted this extensively with their local and national law enforcement advisors and a clear consensus is emerging that a more accurate definition will better inform the public about the prevalence of serious sex crimes and will ultimately drive more resources to apprehend sexual offenders," said Carol Tracy, Executive Director of the Women's Law Project.

"The new definition would be a major change to the FBI's UCR Report and a major victory for advocates," said Kim Gandy, General Counsel of the Feminist Majority Foundation. "This is a watershed moment in the fight to end violence against women."

Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, stated, "This will ensure the crime of rape is measured in a way that it includes all rape, and it will become a crime to which more resources are allocated. It's intolerable the amount of violence against women, and we feel this will have a significant impact."

In response to a recent survey by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), eighty percent of responding police departments agreed that the definition should be changed.

Interviews are available with Women's Law Project Executive Director Carol E. Tracy, Feminist Majority Foundation President/Ms. Magazine Publisher Eleanor Smeal and Feminist Majority Foundation Vice President and General Counsel Kim Gandy.


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The following community sites -- plus, On The Wilder Side and Watching America -- updated last night and this morning:

And we'll close with this from Stephen Lendman's "Obama's Imperial Arrogance" (Information Clearing House):

Obama's latest mission adds another to dozens of similar ones ongoing globally. On October 14, New York Times writers Thom Shanker and Rick Gladstone headlined, "Armed US Advisors to Help Fight African Renegade Group," saying:
Obama ordered "100 armed military advisers to central Africa to help regional forces combat the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a notorious renegade group that has terrorized villagers in at least four countries with marauding bands that kill, rape, maim and kidnap with impunity."
Independent journalist, war correspondent, African expert, and human rights investigator Keith Harmon Snow challenges major media distortions and lies.
He calls the LRA "a Ugandan guerrilla force....wag(ing) a low-intensity war against" Uganda's Museveni regime since 1987. Ugandan factions back LRA resistance. It's also "clandestinely supported by unnamed factions in Congo, Europe and Washington."
Some believe it's "a tool of the Museveni government used to manipulate public opinion, create chaos across the region, gain international sympathy from foreign donors, (and serve as a) perfect ruse to facilitate permanent foreign military intervention."

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