Monday, May 27, 2013

Ruth's Report

Ruth: This Memorial Day weekend, you have two strong news reports and one comedy special to listen to on the radio or stream online.

Let me start with the news reports.  CBS News Radio has produced a very important documentary entitled "Combat Stress: Finding the Way Home."  Do I have a negative criticism?

Yes.  Iraq War veteran Jason Moon is a singer-songwriter and he has a great song entitled "Trying To Find My Way Home:"

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
I kept thinking this song would be featured somewhere in the film -- as bumper music, anything.


That is my only negative criticism.  It is a strong special narrated by 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft.

Post-Traumatic Stress.  An Iraq War veteran explains how he was helped when he realized "it was normal, it was an injury and I could get treatment for it."  That is not a unique reaction.  It was why General Peter Chiarelli was attempting in 2012 to have the term changed to "Post-Traumatic Stress," as he explained to The NewsHour (PBS).  Unless we are quoting someone stating "PTSD," we refer to it at our sites as "Post-Traumatic Stress" for this reason.  Prior to that, for example, here is C.I. from the April 10, 2012 snapshot, we used the 'accepted' name:

In an ideal VA, veterans with PTSD would be exposed to range of treatment (including acupuncture) and be able to choose the one that worked best for them.  PTSD is a coping mechanism in many ways -- your mind telling your body -- due to trauma, violence, etc. -- to be hyper-aware and hyper-vigilant.  It originally kicks in as a response to a crisis.  It's a survival mechanism.  Once it has kicked in, there's not a natural 'off switch' -- at least none discovered thus far.  And that's why people need the skills various treatments and therapies can supply to manage PTSD.  Since the mind is responding to an event with a protection technique and since the mind is a universe of possibilities, there is no one treatment or one therapy that will help everyone. The government would do well to stop attempting to steer everyone into one of two programs -- especially when government doctors are so guilty of over-medicating.  For more on that, see this June 2011 report by Charley Keyes (CNN).

 I was reminded of the above in the CBS News Report when Dr. Charles Hoge, retired Army Colonel, spoke about the body's response:

Dr. Charles W. Hoge:  I like to think of PTSD really as more of a physical or physiological condition rather than an emotional and psychological condition.  Clearly, it has emotional and psychological symptoms associated with it but it also has a host of physical reactions.  And everything that we label a symptom is also an adaptive, necessary, beneficial function in the combat environment.  So when service members come back and they're experiencing hyper-vigilance, they're hyper-alert, they're startling, they're having anger issues -- all of these are actually reactions that they carry from the war that benefited them in that environment.  And the body is simply continuing to act as if it is in the war zone, continuing to protect the individual and actually protect those around that individual.  Often times those service members come back, they have difficulty accessing their emotions.  They have only anger or numbing as a sense of emotions.  They feel a sense of numbing and anger or disconnect from their emotions.  Their loved ones often say that they wonder if they still -- they wonder if they still love -- whether there's still love there?  And the fact is, the emotions are still there, they're just buried much deeper because in the combat environment, you can't allow yourself the luxury of expressing or feeling emotions.  You have to keep your emotions in check.  These things don't just reset instantly nor should they reset instantly.  The body isn't designed to do that.  And if you've had experiences in the war zone, your body will hold on to those memories.

One thing not noted in the special by the veterans or Mr. Kroft is that the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair, Senator Bernie Sanders, is -- as Ava's reporting on Congressional hearings has noted (see here and here for two examples) -- rejecting the cookie-cutter 'cure' that has harmed so many veterans.  On the special, veterans spoke of a variety of ways they dealt with the stress and one explained how he tried "everything" until he found what worked for him.  Veterans are very lucky to have Chair Sanders right now pushing for outside-the-box thinking on treatments. 

You may notice a difference between this radio report and previous ones.  I keep quoting veterans but not naming them.  Why?  I think the veterans in the special were very, very honest. There is a man who explains his dismay about returning from the war and holding his son for the first time and feeling nothing and how much that bothered him.  They are identified in the special and I thank them for their honesty.  But I would hate to have that, for example, end up a pull quote and haunt either that man or his son later in life.  So I made the decision to just refer to any story in the special as coming from a veteran and not to identify them.  Dr. Hoge is cited above for his medical authority.

Online and during the special, CBS notes:

If you need help, or know someone who does, please call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, or you can text at 838255 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There's also information online at

Also providing a special are the people behind one of radio's best programs, Free Speech Radio News.  Their Memorial Day special, anchored by Dorian Merina, is also on veterans.

Danny Wood explores the topic of veteran suicides.  Afghanistan War veteran Jacob Andrews took  his own life -- one an estimated 22 veterans who do this each day.  Wood speaks with Lauri Turner, the veteran's mother.

Lauri Turner: Well, first thing, I think there should be some kind of program put in place for soldiers coming back to acclimate to the system  and to cope with what they've seen and done.  In particular, for Jake's case, there were many opportunities for him to get help.  The particular person that was in charge -- In every situation, you know, work, whatever, you have personality conflicts.  My son was a very good looking boy and he was a little bit cocky.  And I don't know if I can use his name for legal reasons but ____ was somebody who was able to go to college so he  becomes an officer.  He wasn't in Afghanistan with Jake or any of them so he had no idea what they'd been through.  And I actually have some records saying he had appointments to go to medical appointments and he had to call and cancel them because his command would not let him go.  I know they had to have an inkling that he had Traumatic Brain Injury because I have one sheet of paper dated August 10th -- which is a month to the day before they booted him out -- that he needed to have a Traumatic Brain Injury follow up.  He never got that.  And there was a particular counselor that was actually trying to get him into the Wounded Warrior Program in Denton, Texas and when the paperwork would go over to command, the response was, "Oh, it got lost."  They'd send it again.  And finally they started making phone calls.  And you know, they would not sign off for him to go to the Wounded Warrior Program.  And it's my understanding through the Uniform Code of Military Justice that every soldier is required to be -- attempted to be -- rehabilitated.  My son never got that.

Jaisal Noor reports on efforts by veterans and veterans advocates to provide change through their own projects and community work. Mr. Noor noted that the Veterans Affairs Department "needs to hire 600 more [mental health care providers] by June 30th to meet the requirements of an executive order issued by President [Barack] Obama last August."

Alice Ollstein reported on the rape and assault in the military where an estimated 26,000 service members were assaulted last year alone.  Iraq War veteran and rape survivors advocate Sarah Plummer shared her story.  She was raped by someone she served with that she had thought was a friend.

Sarah Plummer : Fear of retaliation -- both formal and informal -- what happens within the system.  I know for instance I did report my rape I was told by my command, "Oh it's a modern military, these counseling services are available, go ahead, you're not suicidal, you're not homicidal, you're not on any drugs go get counseling."  I did and was then later medically disqualified from continuing in flight school because I had sought counseling -- even though I was not having any problems.  I had to work years later to try to get a waiver for that which I did, but at that point had already gone on with my career.  Some people, especially with pilots, would say, "Oh, that ruined my career."  I mean, most people who want to be pilots to be their whole lives. So to be told you can't because of something somebody did to me and I sought the appropriate after action yet was punished?

Ms. Ollstein noted that there were 3400 assault charges filed last year and that only 1300 were investigated while over 360 were just tossed out.  Of the 3400 complaints, only 600 went to a court-martial and, from that number, only 238 were convicted.

Anna Simonton explores the documentary The Invisible War about assault and rape within the military. 

Like CBS, Free Speech Radio News provides this information:

Resources for veterans: 
Soldiers and family members in need of crisis assistance can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to
Another resource is
Survivors of military sexual trauma can call 1-877-995-5247 or go to
The Military Rape Crisis Center helps survivors report crimes and find assistance and My Duty to Speak is a blog where survivors can share their experiences. 
A project from the VA, Make the Connection, shares stories of sexual assault survivors and veterans coping with various forms of trauma and PTSD. Find out more about Andrew O’Brien’s Welcome Your Soldier Home project, national tour and documentary
Writing, arts and healing programs include: Texas-based Hope for PTSD Vets, Warrior Writers, the Veterans Writing Project, Military Experience and the Arts and the US Veterans Artists Alliance

This Memorial Day Weekend also finds WBAI returning to the Christmas Coup Players.

They have been sorely missed.

I was thrown by the fact that Janet Coleman was no longer with the troupe and that it was airing under the name of "Law and Disorder Radio."

Then again, listening to a "Heidi Boghosian" make a fool of herself intoning "a hatchet job," maybe Ms. Coleman was playing that role?

Law and Disorder Radio.  The laughable program that cannot find Iraq -- cannot tell its listeners that a special forces unit was sent back into Iraq by U.S. President Barack Obama last fall or that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Iraq last December -- is the one that seems to think it can do film criticism.

You will remember how they disgraced themselves trashing Zero Dark Thirty.  To review a film, you first need to see it.  Ooops!  Michael Ratner and Michael Smith are so enthralled with their own voices and judgments that they honestly believe they do not need to see a film to review it.

We Steal Secrets is a new documentary by Alex Gibney.

I find it very confusing that WBAI is a public radio station with tax-exempt status and it allows Mr. Michael Ratner to use the public airwaves to smear those who do not embrace his client Julian Assange.

I really think a choice needs to be made here.  If the hosts are allowed to have an hour of the public airwaves, they should not be allowed to pimp their legal clients.  These are the same people who are outraged by the Koch brothers.  But the hosts think it is okay to misuse the public airwaves themselves?  Maybe the reason that they are so convinced others will do that is because they abuse the airwaves over and over themselves.

Mr. Ratner was spewing about the documentary but, when asked a basic question by Ms. Boghosian, he had to respond,  "I don't think he was mentioned in the film."

I can answer yes-or-no because I saw the film.  Mr. Ratner saw some bits of the film in January.

He is becoming a huge embarrassment.

In fact . . .

Suck a dick, Michael Ratner.

My grandson Jayson says that when he talks about some homophobe and it truly applies to Mr. Ratner who could not stop raving about "his gender issues" and "this gender issues" to do with Bradley Manning.  I am sorry you raving lunatic, but Mr. Manning's civilian attorney raised that in his defense.

If you do not like it or it makes you uncomfortable, too damn bad.  Suck a dick, Michael Ratner, suck a dick.

He informs us that Julian Assange, who is hiding out in an Embassy in London, "has offered to answer those questions.  He doesn't want to go to Sweden because he knows and I know that's a 1 way ticket to the United States."

No, he does not want to Sweden to answer allegations of rape.  He and his thugs used to think that attacking the women who stated they were raped was the way to go.

Instead, it created a huge backlash that has led to public snit-fits by sexists like Chris Hedges and lies by people like Medea Benjamin (rape is not "sex," you disgusting idiot).  Mr. Ratner avoided mentioning that one of the women is in the film.  (Again, he does not appear to have seen the full film.)  This woman explains what happened to her after the thugs emerged, how her life was destroyed.  (Remember that 'feminist' Naomi Wolf was among those running around revealing the women's names -- on radio and TV and in print.)  If you see the film, she is probably the person who will move you the most.  (Another reason Julian Assange's defense attorney Michael Ratner wants to kill the film.)

For those who have forgotten that time, Mr. Ratner, Michael Smith, Dennis Bernstein, Ray McGovern, Robert Knight, John Pilger, Naomi Wolf, and so many more were attacking the two women, inventing lies about them, insisting that rape was not rape, and so much more.   They are responsible for every threat those two two women received.

That is why I do not respect attorneys.  They pretend -- like Mr. Ratner -- that they want fairness but, given the chance, they will try to excite and incite a mob to silence those that they oppose.

If you are not getting the rank hypocrisy, review above, Mr. Ratner's statements about "he knows and I know that's a one-way ticket to the United States."

He knows no such thing.  Despite insisting that "it's no mystery what will happen to" Mr. Assange.

Yet, Mr. Ratner wants to savage Mr. Gibney for what he presents.  Mr. Ratner snarls, "How does he know that?" in reference to claims that there is no indictment against Julian Assange in the U.S. currently.  Mr. Ratner snarls "it's public record."


No, what is public record is that you, Mr. Ratner, have repeatedly attempted scare tactics on what grand jury supposedly did.  A grand jury meets in secret.  You have no idea what they did.  But you have tried to create a frenzy.

At every avenue, Mr. Ratner has attempted to mislead.  It was hilarious -- but also disappointing -- to hear Heidi Boghosian refer to the film as "an ad hominem attack" when that was actually what Law and Disorder offers more and more each week.

The show has become as embarrassing as the hosts and the Michaels are seriously aging Ms. Boghosian.

In the real world, Julian Assange may be a rapist.  In the real world, WikiLeaks is not publishing as much as it used to -- though that timeline from Mr. Ratner was especially humorous.  Dave Gilson (Mother Jones) offers the reality that Mr. Ratner tries to obscure:

The wiki part of WikiLeaks is history: The site's dropbox for leaks has been shuttered for more than two years. And the leaks have gone cold: Its biggest recent coups have been security-firm emails lifted by Anonymous and the re-release of 40-year-old documents that confirm the horribleness of Henry Kissinger.

Mainly, in the real world, as we hear attorneys who work on the case abuse the public airwaves by using them to attack any who criticizes Mr. Assanger or speculates that Mr. Assange is not a heavenly creature, we turn off Mr. Assange more and more.

There are real radio programs this week.  And there is Law and Disorder which is a parody.  I really think we need to see if the government can look into revoking WBAI's non-profit status as a result of the free advertising they provide over the airwaves for Mr. Assange's attorneys.  

How this program has destroyed itself.  Seven years ago, they spent time on war resisters, the Iraq War, calling out a White House occupant for his abuses, and so much more.  These days, it is always Julian Assange, cover for Mr. Obama, and what ancient lost 60s fade can they bring up.

Fortunately, not all radio programs are wasting the airwaves this holiday weekend.


law and disorder radio
michael s. smith
heidi boghosian
michael ratner