Attn: United States of America soldiers –

soldier1.jpg

CNN is reporting that the primary concern (exit polling in Michigan)  is the economy at 55%.

The Iraq war comes in at 15%.

_______________________________

Photo credit:  ARLINGTON, VA – MAY 27: Mary McHugh mourns her dead fiance Sgt. James Regan at “Section 60” of the Arlington National Cemetery May 27, 2007. Regan, an American Special Forces soldier, was killed by an IED explosion in Iraq in February of this year, and this was the first time McHugh had visited the grave since the funeral. Section 60, the newest portion of the vast national cemetery on the outskirts of Washington D.C, contains hundreds of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Family members of slain American soldiers have flown in from across the country for Memorial Day. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mary McHugh 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/91468371@N00/2059905018/

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FAMILY LEADERS CALL ROMNEY A DISASTER

Family leaders call Romney ‘disaster’ : Letter criticizes ‘deceptive rhetoric’ around candidate —
© 2008 www.WorldNetDaily.com

Mitt Romney

A coalition of leaders on family issues has released a letter warning about what they describe as the deception being assembled around former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“Most of us are not allied with any presidential candidate,” the letter says. “But we are troubled by the unethical and Orwellian cover-up of Mitt Romney’s role in catastrophic events in Massachusetts, once the cradle of American liberty.

 Read the rest at:  http://www.punditreview.com/2008/01/03/a-stern-warning-to-the-%E2%80%9Cconservative-elites%E2%80%9D-about-mitt-romney/

120 VETS COMMIT SUICIDE EACH WEEK

 

120 War Vets Commit Suicide Each Week

By Penny Coleman, AlterNet
Posted on November 26, 2007, Printed on November 26, 2007
http://www.alternet.org/story/68713/

Earlier this year, using the clout that only major broadcast networks seem capable of mustering, CBS News contacted the governments of all 50 states requesting their official records of death by suicide going back 12 years. They heard back from 45 of the 50. From the mountains of gathered information, they sifted out the suicides of those Americans who had served in the armed forces. What they discovered is that in 2005 alone — and remember, this is just in 45 states — there were at least 6,256 veteran suicides, 120 every week for a year and an average of 17 every day.

As the widow of a Vietnam vet who killed himself after coming home, and as the author of a book for which I interviewed dozens of other women who had also lost husbands (or sons or fathers) to PTSD and suicide in the aftermath of the war in Vietnam, I am deeply grateful to CBS for undertaking this long overdue investigation. I am also heartbroken that the numbers are so astonishingly high and tentatively optimistic that perhaps now that there are hard numbers to attest to the magnitude of the problem, it will finally be taken seriously. I say tentatively because this is an administration that melts hard numbers on their tongues like communion wafers.

Since these new wars began, and in spite of a continuous flood of alarming reports, the Department of Defense has managed to keep what has clearly become an epidemic of death beneath the radar of public awareness by systematically concealing statistics about soldier suicides. They have done everything from burying them on official casualty lists in a category they call “accidental noncombat deaths” to outright lying to the parents of dead soldiers. And the Department of Veterans Affairs has rubber-stamped their disinformation, continuing to insist that their studies indicate that soldiers are killing themselves, not because of their combat experiences, but because they have “personal problems.”

Active-duty soldiers, however, are only part of the story. One of the well-known characteristics of post-traumatic stress injuries is that the onset of symptoms is often delayed, sometimes for decades. Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam are still taking their own lives because new PTSD symptoms have been triggered, or old ones retriggered, by stories and images from these new wars. Their deaths, like the deaths of more recent veterans, are written up in hometown newspapers; they are locally mourned, but officially ignored. The VA doesn’t track or count them. It never has. Both the VA and the Pentagon deny that the problem exists and sanctimoniously point to a lack of evidence they have refused to gather.

They have managed this smoke and mirrors trick for decades in large part because suicide makes people so uncomfortable. It has often been called “that most secret death” because no one wants to talk about it. Over time, in different parts of the world, attitudes have fluctuated between the belief that the act is a sin, a right, a crime, a romantic gesture, an act of consummate bravery or a symptom of mental illness. It has never, however, been an emotionally neutral issue. In the United States, the rationalism of our legal system has acknowledged for 300 years that the act is almost always symptomatic of a mental illness. For those same 300 years, organized religions have stubbornly maintained that it’s a sin. In fact, the very worst sin. The one that is never forgiven because it’s too late to say you’re sorry.

The contradiction between religious doctrine and secular law has left suicide in some kind of nether space in which the fundamentals of our systems of justice and belief are disrupted. A terrible crime has been committed, a murder, and yet there can be no restitution, no punishment. As sin or as mental illness, the origins of suicide live in the mind, illusive, invisible, associated with the mysterious, the secretive and the undisciplined, a kind of omnipresent Orange Alert. Beware the abnormal. Beware the Other.

For years now, this administration has been blasting us with high-decibel, righteous posturing about suicide bombers, those subhuman dastards who do the unthinkable, using their own bodies as lethal weapons. “Those people, they aren’t like us; they don’t value life the way we do,” runs the familiar xenophobic subtext: And sometimes the text isn’t even sub-: “Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, in Washington and Pennsylvania,” proclaimed W, glibly conflating Sept. 11, the invasion of Iraq, Islam, fanatic fundamentalism and human bombs.

Bush has also expressed the opinion that suicide bombers are motivated by despair, neglect and poverty. The demographic statistics on suicide bombers suggest that this isn’t the necessarily the case. Most of the Sept. 11 terrorists came from comfortable middle- to upper-middle-class families and were well-educated. Ironically, despair, neglect and poverty may be far more significant factors in the deaths of American soldiers and veterans who are taking their own lives.

Consider the 25 percent of enlistees and the 50 percent of reservists who have come back from the war with serious mental health issues. Despair seems an entirely appropriate response to the realization that the nightmares and flashbacks may never go away, that your ability to function in society and to manage relationships, work schedules or crowds will never be reliable. How not to despair if your prognosis is: Suck it up, soldier. This may never stop!

Neglect? The VA’s current backlog is 800,000 cases. Aside from the appalling conditions in many VA hospitals, in 2004, the last year for which statistics are available, almost 6 million veterans and their families were without any healthcare at all. Most of them are working people — too poor to afford private coverage, but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or means-tested VA care. Soldiers and veterans need help now, the help isn’t there, and the conversations about what needs to be done are only just now beginning.

Poverty? The symptoms of post-traumatic stress injuries or traumatic brain injuries often make getting and keeping a job an insurmountable challenge. The New York Times reported last week that though veterans make up only 11 percent of the adult population, they make up 26 percent of the homeless. If that doesn’t translate into despair, neglect and poverty, well, I’m not sure the distinction is one worth quibbling about.

There is a particularly terrible irony in the relationship between suicide bombers and the suicides of American soldiers and veterans. With the possible exception of some few sadists and psychopaths, Americans don’t enlist in the military because they want to kill civilians. And they don’t sign up with the expectation of killing themselves. How incredibly sad that so many end up dying of remorse for having performed acts that so disturb their sense of moral selfhood that they sentence themselves to death.

There is something so smugly superior in the way we talk about suicide bombers and the cultures that produce them. But here is an unsettling thought. In 2005, 6,256 American veterans took their own lives. That same year, there were about 130 documented deaths of suicide bombers in Iraq.* Do the math. That’s a ratio of 50-to-1. So who is it that is most effectively creating a culture of suicide and martyrdom? If George Bush is right, that it is despair, neglect and poverty that drive people to such acts, then isn’t it worth pointing out that we are doing a far better job?

*I say “about” because in the aftermath of a suicide bombing, it is often very difficult for observers to determine how many individual bodies have been blown to pieces.

Penny Coleman is the widow of a Vietnam veteran who took his own life after coming home. Her latest book, Flashback: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide and the Lessons of War, was released on Memorial Day, 2006. Her blog is Flashback.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/68713/

VETERANS HAVE BEEN ABANDONED: Where’s the outcry ?

 

Fought for America? Bush Still Won’t Give You Health Care?

 

By Eric Haas, Rockridge Nation
Posted on November 8, 2007, Printed on November 8, 2007
http://www.alternet.org/story/67158/

Last April, President Bush told members of American Legion Post 177 that “we owe the families and the soldiers the best health care possible.”

That debt is still unpaid. According to a new report by Harvard Medical School researchers, published last week in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Public Health, millions of veterans and their family members have not been getting the medical care they need.

People assume that veterans automatically get health care from Veterans Affairs (VA). They don’t. Despite their military service, the Bush Administration requires most veterans to pay additional money for insurance in order to get care. But many veterans don’t earn enough money to be able to buy health insurance. At the same time, they aren’t poor enough under Bush Administration guidelines to get VA care or to qualify for Medicaid. Abandoned, these veterans struggle alone to find health care. In the insurance marketplace, our veterans remain in harms way — their service, and our debt, forgotten.

Why haven’t we made good on our obligation? Our moral debt to our veterans, based on mutual need and shared responsibility, goes unpaid in the current health insurance system because it is based upon corporate self-interest. An insurance company’s responsibility is to maximize profit, even when that means denying care to veterans. Clearly, our national moral responsibility is not the same as an insurance company’s corporate fiduciary duty to maximize profits. (This concept is discussed further in our Rockridge Institute paper, The Logic of the Health Care Debate).

In fact, as the veterans’ predicament demonstrates, these obligations can be quite contradictory. A vet is a national hero. Soldiers risk their lives. Many will be injured. Some will die. In return, we promise to support our troops in whatever way possible — both on the battlefield and when (or if) they return as veterans. Certainly, our support includes medical care.

There is no price that can be put on the risks a soldier takes. Nor is there a way to estimate the care a veteran will need during their lifetime. Our mutual obligations are easily understood, but impossible to quantify.

But a health insurance company’s duty is to its shareholders. Its legal and contractual obligation is to maximize profits. Health insurance companies do that by quantifying likely health costs, and selling the policies for more than they will pay out in benefits. If you cannot afford their policies, then they will not sell you one. Simply put, a veteran is just another potential customer.

The national failure to meet our shared obligations to veterans — who risked life and limb on our behalf — is a disgrace. It betrays the moral vacuum at the center of our current health care system.

Let’s simplify to make this ugly circumstance as clear as we can. Imagine a town. Inside the town live health insurance executives and the politicians who serve their interests. Soldiers risk life and limb to protect the town. Later, a soldier gets sick. “Sorry, you don’t earn enough to afford our insurance policies. Try the next town,” say the insurance executives. Except, in America, there is no “next town.”

One way that we could meet our national obligation to support our troops is for the government to provide or guarantee medical care for all veterans. A version of this idea occurred through the Veterans’ Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-262). The Act opened VA care to all veterans, with copays for those veterans considered to be “non-poor” (generally those making $30,000 and higher). In January 2003, however, the Bush Administration ordered a halt to the enrollment of “non-poor” veterans. The VA facilities were “full.” To date, it’s no better. As a result, according to the Harvard Medical School study, millions of vets and their family members cannot afford health insurance and go everyday without needed medical care. That is tragic. Something must change.

The authors elegantly summarize the central role that veterans and health care play in our national community:

The disturbing scene of returning soldiers left without care is a stark reminder that America is a nation bound by mutual obligations and shared responsibility. We owe veterans care not because they can pay for it nor because they are heroes but — as their sacrifices remind us — because members of a society are obligated to serve and protect each other.

In America, we don’t have a health care system; we have an insurance marketplace. Until we understand the difference, no reform will work. To our low-income veterans, that is a daily hardship. We should make their hardship our problem too. One we solve together. Now. We owe that to our veterans.

Eric Haas is a senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/67158/

SEPTEMBER DAWN OPENS: Mormon History Uncovered

‘September Dawn’s’ Mormon Terrorists

I find it more than VERY ODD that this happenend on September 11. Read NEPHI 9:11 in the book of Mormon.

A group of religious fanatics led by a bloodthirsty leader who preaches the violence of “blood atonement” ruthlessly murders a group of peaceful travelers. This, in a sentence, is the plot of “September Dawn”, starring Jon Voight and opening Aug. 24. The year is 1857, the date is Sept. 11, and the killers are Mormons massacring a wagon train of families heading West to California. It’s a tragedy that became known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre, one of the darkest moments in Mormon history, whose details remain shrouded in mystery. Now it’s the subject of a film that, sadly, fails on two fronts: as history and as a movie.

http://blog.beliefnet.com/idolchatter/2007/08/september-dawn-love-amidst-the.html