Monday, July 09, 2012

Veterans parades and training

Two veterans parades (and job fairs) were held over the weekend.  Samantha Allen (Foster's Daily Democrat) reports on the one in Portsmouth, New Hampshire Sunday:

Hundreds of people assembled in Market Square Sunday cheering the approximate 20 Iraq veterans who marched through the streets along with several veterans and pro-peace organizations. Some citizens pointed at soldiers from the sidewalks, shouting "Thank you!" Others held signs that read, "We (Heart) America's Heroes" and "Welcome Home!" Small children waved American flags from strollers and curbs.

 Joey Cresta ( adds, "Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan marched near the front of the parade. They were joined by Gold Star families, who had lost loved ones in the conflicts; the Pease Greeters, who have welcomed countless soldiers arriving home from overseas at the Portsmouth International Airport at Pease; and veterans groups, such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the N.H. Veterans for Peace." Near the top of the article is a photo essay -- Cheryl Senter's the photographer -- of the parade that you can click through. At Patch, Robert Cook also offers a photo essay of the parade. Gretyl MacAlaster (Union Leader Correspondent) notes, "John and Becky Stafford of Goffstown just happened to be in Portsmouth on Sunday afternoon as the parade began. They both also served in the Air Force. John Stafford said it was nice to see a parade to welcome home recently returning veterans."

Saturday, the parade was in Austin, Texas.  Ciara O'Rourke (Austin American-Statesman) reports, "Joshua Dumont, a lieutenant with the Texas Army National Guard who served in the Army for 20 years, said he joined the parade Saturday specifically to attend the job fair afterward. He was hopeful about management training classes he said H-E-B offered, potentially setting the stage for him to become a store manager.  The grocery giant had a booth at the fair alongside H&R Block, the Department of Veterans Affairs and Texas State University among other businesses and organizations on hand to talk to veterans Saturday." One of the parade organizers, Connor Kelly, tells Jess Mitchell (YNN -- video), "We're just people who got together over beers one night" and planned the parade and job fair.  He adds, "We now know that we're losing more soldiers to taking their own lives than we actually have lost to enemy fire.  So I think that clearly shows that our veterans need a show of support from our community."  And before someone writes in, the brief text says "Connor Kenny."  I'm assuming that they would put the most care to the story they aired and the YNN video bills him as "Connor Kelly."

Meanwhile Hugh Lessig (Daily Press) reports on Iraq War veteran Sgt Rebecca Iacolino who saw bombings and was shot at in Iraq -- among other things -- and returned to the US only to have open heart surgery (2009) and then treatment for cancer (2010).  She has a medical discharge next month after 12 years of service.  Lessig notes:

If her recovery began at Fort Eustis, it took another step forward last week at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News. There, she held a public reception to showcase her work as part of The Healing Arts Project. The center launched the program this spring, providing specially designed art classes and workshops for active-duty troops and veterans who are seeking a different kind of therapy.
Iacolino is the first member of the program to show her work.
"It was hard," she said. "But I wanted everybody to see there was more to wounded warriors -- there's more to veterans, there's more to soldiers than PTSD," she said.
She said the 16-week program has helped heal scars accumulated over months and years.

The Peninsula Fine Arts Center is in Newport News, Virginia and is celebrating its 50th anniversary.   And click here for more info about The Healing Arts Project (this isn't the national children's healing effort which also goes by The Healing Arts Project).

The things that I have done that I regret
The things I seen, I won't forget
For this life and so many more
And I'm trying to find my way home
Child inside me is long dead and gone
Somewhere between lost and alone
Trying to find my way home
-- "Trying To Find My Way Home," written by Jason Moon, from Moon's latest album Trying To Find My Way Home

Iraq War veteran Jason Moon is the focus of an Associated Press article and an AP video interview.
 His upcoming concerts include:

 And you can click here for more concert information.  Last night we noted Iraqi women because I hate it when they're distorted.  And I really think it is past time to call out liars who present themselves as the saviors of Iraqi women claiming the illegal war brought them something.  It brought them hardship and a loss of rights.  And it is grossly offensive for an American to start talking about what noble things he is doing in Iraq (drop back to the Salaam Dunk documentary) for Iraqi women when he renders invisible the many brave Iraqi women who played sports and competed in the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and '00s prior to the Iraq War and after.  That nonsense needs to stop.  Before seeing the thing last night, the "Hejira" topic was going to include the death of Ernest Borgnine.  Why?  As Dennis McLellan (Los Angeles Times) noted:

Borgnine graduated from New Haven High School in 1935, then worked a few weeks as a vegetable truck driver before enlisting in the Navy as an apprentice seaman. He was discharged two months before the attack on Pearl Harbor and promptly reenlisted. He spent the war as a gunner's mate on a destroyer.
After his discharge, Borgnine returned home, unsure of what he was going to do.

Finally, his mother suggested he give acting a shot. After all, she told him, "You're always making a fool of yourself in front of people."

After six months of study at the Randall School of Dramatic Art in
Hartford, Conn., on the GI Bill, Borgnine got a job at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va., working behind the scenes before finally landing a $30-a-week acting spot in the theater's road company.

Academy Award winner Ernest Borgnine, like the legendary Steve McQueen, used the GI Bill to train as an actor.  This is something to remember when members of Congress start insisting that this school or organization is worthy but that one isn't or that an institution must provide a degree or the GI Bill shouldn't provide funds for it.  VRAP is part of The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2012 which Senator Patty Murray (Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee) championed and it does recognize the arts and many other occupations.  VRAP still has spots open - though they're not saying how many, it was 18,000 last week but they're supposed to have had a significant increase in applications.  It's first come, first serve.  The criteria:

  • Are at least 35 but no more than 60 years old
  • Are unemployed on the date of application
  • Received an other than dishonorable discharge
  • Are not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program (e.g.: the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance)
  • Are not in receipt of VA compensation due to unemployability
  • Are not enrolled in a federal or state job training program

Click here for more information and links to apply online.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I Want Four More Years" went up last night.   On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) and this week they address the second parent adoptions for same-sex couples with the ACLU's Chris Brook, the Drone War with Medea Benjamin (CODEPINK) and Trevor Timm (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and Eli Smith joins them to discuss the 100th anniversary of folk icon Woody Guthrie's birth. 
Finally, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award.  We'll close with this from David Bacon's "Watsonville Teachers and Students Take On Methyl Iodide" (Z Magazine):

Teachers at Watsonville's Ohlone Elementary School were more than relieved when Arysta LifeScience, a giant Japanese chemical company, announced on March 20 that it would no longer sell methyl iodide in the U.S. for use as a pesticide. The school, on the edge of Watsonville, is separated from agricultural fields by no more than a 30-foot wide road. Over the last decade, growers have planted strawberries, artichokes and brussels sprouts in the long rows that snake over the hillside, ending a stones throw from the playground where children kick their ball or hang from the jungle gym every day.
When those fields get sprayed with pesticides, or when chemicals are plowed into the soil to kill the nematodes and root fungus that infest strawberry plants, everyone at the school gets a dose. It can come from the spray directly, or from the dust that blows out of the fields into the adjacent neighborhood. Either way, this "pesticide drift" means that whatever is used to kill pests also gets ingested by children and adults when it wafts through the air into their lungs, or when it coats their clothing or food for lunch.
"We know that methyl iodide causes birth defects," says Jenn Laskin, grievance office for the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers. "But we also suspect that it is one of a host of pesticides that are having far-reaching effects on students, and on ourselves as teachers." That realization motivated Laskin and a group of PVFT members to become part of a broad coalition that has fought methyl iodide and methyl bromide use for several years. When Arysta ("the world's largest privately held crop protection and life science company") announced it was pulling methyl iodide from the market, the coalition called it a victory.
Arysta's announcement stated that "the decision was ... based on its economic viability in the U.S. marketplace," and that it would "continue to support the use of iodomethane outside of the U.S. where it remains economically viable." What made methyl iodide economically unviable in the U.S. was an almost-certain ruling by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch that the chemical's original approval violated both science and law. Behind that legal suit was not only an accumulation of scientific evidence, but also a political firestorm organized by its opponents, PVFT among them.
Methyl iodide is used primarily by strawberry growers to kill root infestations. It was a replacement for methyl bromide, whose use was banned in 1990 by the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances. Methyl bromide attacks the ozone layer in the atmosphere. Despite the ban, however, in 1999 over 70,000 tons of methyl bromide were still being used worldwide as a soil fumigant, mostly in the U.S.
Arysta then proposed methyl iodide as a substitute. In opposition, 54 leading scientists wrote to the EPA: "We are skeptical of U.S. EPA's conclusion that the high levels of exposure to methyl iodide that are likely to result from broadcast applications are 'acceptable' risks ... none of U.S. EPA's calculations account for the extra vulnerability of the unborn fetus and children to toxic insults." Methyl iodide is listed as a carcinogen by other Federal agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control.

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