Tag Archives: veterans

Depleted Uranium “not that scary”? Really? Really, Really?

On the danger scale, they [scientists] seemed to rank it [depleted uranium] somewhere just above or just below eating too much sugar.
 
– Lee Benson, Deseret News, April 2, 2010
 
Three scientists gave a presentation  in Tooele County last week, the county that is home to Energy Pollutions Solutions in a county that is touted the chemical waste "armpit" of Utah.   The presentation centered on the he health risks associated with depleted uranium.  Lee Benson reported on the event and titled his article "Depleted uranium not that scary".  The report disingenuously insinuates that because there were no "anti-nuclear" activists present there was no controversy by virtue of the fact that
 
a hockey game DIDN’T break out.  Nobody slugged anybody.  There was no brawl.  No one even raised his voice.

Benson continues to summarize the scientists theories that as long as the DU is covered and out of sight, the dangers are not as "real" as everyone says it is.

Really?

I can’t help but wonder, even though Benson points out that there is no connection between the presenting scientists and Energy Pollutions Solutions or any other waste storage corporation, if there was some hidden connection, somewhere, somehow ("We have vays…..").  I mean, c’mon – the audience members had very little to say and no questions?  In Utah????  Just sayin’.

And it’s not just the radiation.  DU has chemical properties that deems it more dangerous than lead (about 70% time more dense than lead is) .

Physicians for Social Responsibility provides some good information and links to published journal sources to examine the effects of DU, including occupational hazards, for example.  HEAL Utah also provides cited information in the dangers of DU.

Let’s face it. The Pentagon will never reveal any findings about the effects of DU.  I’m not a scientist, but based on my readings, I feel that  DU is a terrible, horrible weapon of mass destruction.   The waste from the use of DU in nuclear power plants is in itself a real problem since it can’t be stored just anywhere.  The manufacturing and use of it for any reason should be stopped…..now. 

Here are some links to sources to read about  DU, some scientific, some not.  I have purposely provided sources that are neutral to the dangers of DU and some that adamantly oppose DU due to the health risks and other factors.   (Warning:  Some articles show graphic photographs of children disfigured by the effects of DU).

Is depleted uranium really "not that scary"?  Read and decide for yourself if the risks of manufacturing, using, and storing it are worth it for the welfare of our planet.

Comments to the Deseret News Article reference above
Wikipedia – general information on DU with cited sources
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Campaign Against Depleted Uranium
World Nuclear Association – "representing people and organizations of the nuclear profession"
International Atomic Energy Agency
Countercurrents Depleted Uranium: A War Crime Within a War Crime
TuberoseDepleted Uranium and Gulf War Syndrome – good information, sources not cited
Federation of American Scientists

 

“Happy” Veterans Day

Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans Join The Homeless

 

Ethan Kreutzer joined the Army at the age of 17 and fought with the 19th Airborne in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. When he retuned home, he had no money, no education and no civilian job experience. He soon became homeless. He slept in an alley off Haight Street, behind two trash cans.

June Moss drove from Kuwait to Iraq as an Army engineer in a truck convoy. When she returned to the United States, she lost her home, and drove her two young children from hotel to hotel across Northern California.

Sean McKeen, a hardy, broad-shouldered 21-year-old with a wide smile, went to Iraq to clear land mines, and to get money for college. When he returned home, he became homeless in less than a week. He found himself sleeping in a cot in a crowded homeless shelter in San Francisco.

They are all part of a growing trend of homelessness among returning war on terrorism veterans.

Read More

 

Veterans beaten and arrested at Hofstra Debate

http://www.squadron13.com/BillPerry/HofstraDebate/default.htm

Click link for photos and video (viewer discretion advised)

A group of peaceful IVAW Veterans with aspirations to contribute questions for Presidential Debate use was turned away prior to the debate, brutally trampled by mounted police, and arrested. Why won’t Obama or McCain hear what these former servicemembers have to say? Pictures below (viewer discretion advised),
IVAW Press Release and relevant news links below pictures. More will be added as it becomes available.

[BEGIN PRESS RELEASE]
PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 16, 2008

CONTACT: Jason Lemieux, jasonlemieux@ivaw.org, 760-409-9403 or Kristofer Goldsmith, kgoldy1985@gmail.com, 516-457-1260

Iraq War Veterans Arrested While Attempting to Deliver Questions to Obama and McCain

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. ? One hour before the final presidential debate of the 2008 campaign, fourteen members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) marched in formation to Hofstra University to present questions to the candidates. IVAW had requested permission from debate moderator Bob Schieffer to ask their questions during the debate, but received no response.

The contingent of veterans in dress and combat uniforms attempted to enter the building where the debate was to be held in order to ask questions about poor veterans’ healthcare and supporting war resisters of the candidates, but were turned back by police. IVAW members at the front of the formation were immediately arrested, and others were pushed back into the crowd by police on horseback. Several members were injured, including former Army Sergeant Nick Morgan who suffered a broken cheekbone when he was trampled by police horses before being arrested.

“Neither of the candidates has shown real support for service members and veterans. We came here to try and have serious questions answered, questions that we as veterans of the Iraq war have a right to ask, but instead we were arrested. We will continue to ask these questions no matter who is elected. We believe that the time has come to end this war and bring our troops home, and we will be pushing for that no matter what happens in this election.” said Jason Lemieux, a former Sergeant in the US Marine Corps who served three tours in Iraq, and member of IVAW.

A total of ten veterans were arrested during the action, including Matthis Chiroux (Army Sergeant), Kristofer Goldsmith (Army Sergeant), Adam Kokesh (Marine Sergeant), Mike Spinato, Geoff Millard (Army Sergeant), Marlisa Grogan (Marine Captain), Nathan Peld (Navy, 1998-2004), Nick Morgan (Army Sergeant), James Gilligan (Marine Corps, 6 years) and Jose Vasquez (Army & Army Reserves, 1992-2007).

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) was founded in July of 2004 to allow servicemen and women from all branches of the military a chance to come together and speak out against an illegal, unjust and unwinnable occupation. IVAW currently has over 1,300 members in 49 states, Canada and on military bases in the United States and overseas. To learn more about IVAW you can visit our website at http://www.ivaw.org

[END PRESS RELEASE]

Additional links:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/off-the-bus-reporter/final-debate-protesters-c_b_135083.html
http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/16/15_arrested_outside_presidential_debate_in
http://www.digitaljournal.com/print/article/261223
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Iraq-War-Veterans-Arrested-by-Kevin-Gosztola-081016-85.html
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6962936515243468480&hl=en (25 minute video)
Continue reading

PTSD: Untold Stories

 I saw an article in one of our local papers this week abou the suicide rate of soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Coincidentally, a Utah member of Military Families Speak Out sent me this account of a family affected by soldier suicide:

http://eiswert.family.tripod.com
Florida MILITARY FAMILIES SPEAK OUT

 

“When someone says my son died fighting for his country, I say,

“No, the suicide bomber who killed my son died fighting for his country.”

Father of American Soldier Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, USMC, KIA in Iraq

 

Sometimes we wonder just how to be sure an email is read.

We are all overwhelmed with the volume of mail, the importance of the issues, and the urgency of spreading our message.

Today we come to you with news that we hope will slow you down a bit, give you pause, and open your heart to the power of our shared labors of love on behalf of our soldiers and their families.

Tracy Eiswert and her three little daughters entered their home on May 16th to find her husband Scott, their father, had shot himself.  Scott’s suicide followed on the heels of his return from Iraq a year and a half ago, where he served with the National Guard, and his deepening and untreated PTSD.  When he learned his unit would be deploying again soon, the pain was just too great. 

Scott demonstrated almost all of the symptoms of someone suffering from severe PTSD:

withdrawal, angry outbursts, sadness, depression, isolation.  He had early treatment for PTSD but it was deemed unhelpful and was discontinued.   The National Guard offered no resources to this family – no support group, no outreach to wives of returning soldiers, no pre-deployment orientation so they would know what to expect while their soldiers were gone.

Stacy sought help following Scott’s suicide and every door was slammed in her face.

She and her little girls are living in their basement, unable to go back into the rooms where the memories of their father are just too overwhelming. 

A friend of Stacy’s found out about MFSO and contacted our national office in Boston and the call was referred to Stacy Hafley, Mid-West coordinator for MFSO.  Stacy’s husband served in Iraq in the National Guard.  She has three small children.  Her family continues to struggle with the deep wounds of PTSD.   She has a breadth of experience dealing with many of the same issues pouring into the lives of the Eiswert family.  And Stacy is an unstoppable networker of awesome proportions!

Calls to local churches, law enforcement, funeral homes, the YMCA, and just about every other group or individual in the Greeneville, Tennessee telephone book that she thought might be of help kept Stacy on the phone for days.  In the course of her tireless efforts to relieve some of Stacy’s burdens, Tracy shared what was going on with sister MFSO Board Member and Southeast regional coordinator Beverley Wiskow who lives in Central Florida.

Finally a Jeffers Mortuary in Greeneville offered to cover the costs of Scott’s funeral and his military service was held on May 23rd.   The local community college will be offering art therapy for the children.  The YMCA will host them for swimming lessons this summer.  IVAW members in the region are forming a work team to go to Greeneville to assist Stacy in preparing her home for sale – she and her girls simply cannot live there any longer.  Calls to 15 churches yielded no offers of assistance.  The National Guard was AWOL throughout the week after Scott’s death.  And Stacy pressed on, unwilling to take no for an answer.

Strangely, very strangely, Beverley attended two town hall meetings in central Florida this past Thursday as a representative of MFSO where she challenged Florida Senator Bill Nelson for his continued support for the war.  One of her specific questions to the Senator was about the staggering increase in the number of soldier and veteran suicides resulting from the Iraq occupation and the conflict in Afghanistan.  He offered his typical lip service and placations but did allow that he would be willing to meet with Iraq Veterans Against the War and would listen to what they have to say.  Coincidentally, that night the MSM flooded TV news with reports on the dramatic increases in suicides in the military.  Just that day Beverley had asked Senator Nelson if he was aware that the number of soldiers and veterans dying from suicide each week outstrips the number dying in the desert.

Leaving the town hall, driving through the sweltering Florida drought-plagued countryside, Beverley saw only the tiniest glimmer of hope because the Senator said he would sit down with IVAW and listen.  Other than that, thinking about the tragedy of the Eiswert family, the seeming hopelessness of politicians ever stepping up and being leaders, the muddied priorities of a nation more concerned about who marries whom than about the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq and our failures in Afghanistan, she was emotionally exhausted and discouraged.

As always, Beverley was wearing her MFSO tee shirt, the one that says “Funding the War Is Killing Our Troops,” when she pulled into a Wal-Mart in Bushnell, Florida to buy a nearly $4 gallon of milk.  Accustomed to people commenting on her shirt, she wasn’t surprised with a very thin man with a bit of an edge in his soft voice said, “I like your shirt.” 

She turned to him and asked if he had a soldier in his family.  He said, “We did.”   Those were chilling words and she gathered herself to ask if they had lost their soldier in the war.  He said, “No, our son-in-law committed suicide.”  The pain, the rage, the fear, the confusion in the faces of this gentle man and his petite wife were palpable.  I asked if their daughter lived in Florida, thinking MFSO might be able to be of assistance to their family.  They said no, that she lived in Tennessee. 

Beverley was quite literally spinning when she asked Clif and Kathy if their daughter’s name was Stacy.  Their eyes widened as they said, “Yes, but how…..”  She then asked if their son-in-law’s name was Scotty?  At that point these three people, standing in the aisle of a supercenter in the middle-of-nowhere Florida realized that everything that had happened in the last several days had occurred with absolute precision to bring them together there beside the pots and pans.   

When the initial shock of realizing she was speaking with Tracy’s parents and their amazement that they were speaking with someone in this MFSO group, about which they had just learned, and that was doing so much to support their daughter – when that bizarre confluence of unlikely events registered, they hugged and talked for nearly an hour about Tracy, their grandchildren, how terrified and traumatized they are, and how desperately Tracy needs help, how she literally tore up her Masters Degree certificate in her grief, and of course they exchanged email information. 

Tracy’s father is a Vietnam Veteran.  Clif is in the last stages of stomach cancer, “unofficially” related to his exposure to the still dirty little secret called Agent Orange.  Kathy, Tracy’s soft-spoken and spunky mother is preparing for her husband’s death with a profound peace and strength.  She also cares for Clif’s brother and her mother, both of whom are disabled.  Both Clif’s health and the realities of finances make a trip to Tennessee to be with their daughter and their grandchildren simply impossible.  Clif and Kathy said they want to be part of MFSO, another American military family ready to speak out !

So Beverley left the store and immediately called the MFSO office in Boston, heart still pounding about the synchronicity of the astounding encounter with Clif and Kathy.  Ryan answered the phone in Boston and was quite literally speechless.  He said he would call Stacy in Missouri to tell her.  Within a matter of minutes, Kathy called her daughter and shared with her this incredible meeting at the local Wal-Mart.  Kathy called Stacy in Missouri to tell her what neither of them could believe. 

Here we are 48 hours later.

  • We have created a website for the Eiswert family.  It is a tribute to Scott as well as what we hope will be a growing resource for other military families whose soldiers are suffering from PTSD.
  • WEBSITE:  http://eiswert.family.com  Please share this address with everyone you know that might be able to assist this young family OR who is dealing with the agony of PTSD!   Linked to the full testimony of Cpl. Jeff Lucey’s parents, Joyce and Kevin Lucey!
  • Donations can be sent to the Memorial Fund for the Family of E-4 Scott Eiswert through a PalPal link on the website or mailed to the bank address also available on the website.
  • A bank account has been set up in Tennessee to receive donations for Tracy and her family.
  • The manager of the local Wal-Mart in Greeneville cut through some formidable red tape to get a gift card to Tracy last night so she could buy food.  The girls had ice cream today – doesn’t sound like much but it made their day!
  • Beverley’s husband, an assistant manager of Wal-Mart in Dunnellon, FL, even secured a gift card for Tracy’s parents!
  • VFP and IVAW continue to coordinate resources to help Tracy with the transition to a new home – she’s looking for a place to move into as soon as possible – any realtors out there with TN connections?
  • There are substantial debts, including a small amount still owed to the mortuary
  • Counseling has begun with Tracy and the little girls.
  • You National Guardsmen out there: where are Scott’s commanding officers, his fellow soldiers, other families?  We need your help waking up the Tennessee 278th Army National Guard!
  • Friends, relatives, connections in Eastern Tennessee?  Please let us know!
  • Stacy and her daughters have prepared a thank you note for the local Wal-Mart manager and have made calls to a number of MFSO people today to thank them!  In the midst of her grief and with so many concerns, her sweet heart is filled with gratitude.  This is a young woman who was definitely “raised right” as we say in the South!

Most of all know this: every single phone call, every letter to the editor, every hour you spend on the computer, every article you write, every person you meet and talk with about MFSO, every family that is scouring the internet for information while their soldier is still serving or who has returned home changed, one of those suffering from invisible wounds to his or her soul, every time you nervously stand up to speak in front of a not-so-friendly crowd about the necessity of bringing all of our soldiers home now and caring for them when they return, every time you spend money you don’t have to make copies of flyers, or to buy gas to drive to a meeting or an event on the other side of your county, every night you can’t go to sleep because of all that is still to be done, your mind spinning with how you’ll manage to get a project finished on time, every time you’re your home phone and your cell phone batteries wear out because you’ve been doing the work of MFSO, every day you wonder why we continue to plod through the quicksand of a broken and corrupt political system, a failed government, a shredded Constitution, a neglected military, and a VA that is totally unprepared to deal with the casualties of this continuing nightmare – every time you think we are little more than a tiny drop of water trying to move a giant stone, remember Stacy and Unity, Breanna, and Cristina.   Remember Clif and Kathy.

Remember we are where we are supposed to be.

Remember we are doing the work we are meant to be doing.

Remember we are family – all of us. 

When your child suffers, all of us cry. 

When your daughter is hurting, all of us feel her pain. 

When your husband’s pain takes his life, all of us mourn. 

When your son is in a coma in Kansas City, all of us – in Maine, in North Carolina, in Oregon, Las Vegas, at Ft. Hood, in Alabama are watching over him and seeing him whole and healed.

And when you or your soldiers have a need, all of us are only a phone call or an email away.

They say you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family.  Who knew our MFSO family would be precisely the friends we would have chosen!

Our new sister-daughter-granddaughter Tracy and for her little ones have many needs right now.  Scott served and was grossly neglected by the country and the Army he trusted.  MFSO will do better for his beloved family.  And Tracy is already “one of us” – read her post on her Facebook page and on the website.  She is already reaching out to other families, hoping to save them the loss she has suffered.

Florida MILITARY FAMILIES SPEAK OUT

 

“When someone says my son died fighting for his country, I say,

“No, the suicide bomber who killed my son died fighting for his country.”

Father of American Soldier Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, USMC, KIA in Iraq


Spend this Memorial Day honoring living veterans

By Pat LaMarche

Memorial Day – what does it mean to you? Barbecues and family get-togethers and the seasonally granted freedom to wear white shoes?

It’s also a time when many folks head over to the cemetery or the town park or the VFW hall and remember those who’ve died.

Some celebrations combine all three — although I can vouch for the fact that planting flowers at your mom’s grave can be tough on those white slacks.

I’ve got an idea: Let’s change the holiday a bit. How about this year we change the name of our spring holiday from Memorial Day to Honorarium Day? That way we could revere folks while they’re still alive.

I actually got the idea when I overheard a couple of older guys talking. Both former military, they discussed a young soldier one of them had seen at a veterans center earlier that week. One of the fellas said, “Oh, yeah, this country loves it soldiers. They love us when we’re fighting and love us when we’re dead. It’s the time in between that they don’t much care about us.”

He’s right. We do put yellow ribbons on the backs of the cars for the troops. If the yellow ribbons show support for soldiers, maybe we need different colored ribbons to show support for veterans when they get home.

So here are a few color suggestions.

And if you’re some enterprising entrepreneur, feel free to start selling them. I make only one request, if you take my ideas and run with them: Please have the decency to give a percentage to the veterans themselves. See, with extremely rare exception, the money that folks spend on those yellow car magnets doesn’t help the troops at all.

Prototype No. 1: the bricks-and-mortar ribbon. You can slap one of those on your car to show support for homeless veterans. You may remember a few months ago I mentioned the 400,000 homeless veterans in our country. Well, guess what, they’re still homeless! You aren’t surprised, are you? Why? Did you write to your congressperson and tell them to do something about fixing the problem? No? Did you think somebody else would do it?

I’ve got an idea. Go get that yellow ribbon off your car right now. I mean even before you finish reading this column. You can put it back on after you do something about the 200,000 who slept in the street just last night — and not a moment sooner.

Then there’s the ball-and-chain ribbon, for incarcerated veterans. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, the same folks who gave us the statistic on veterans living in the streets, tell us that veterans are more likely than any other inmates to serve time for violent crimes. Maybe if we buy enough ball-and-chain ribbons we can find therapeutic solutions for our soldiers — after our military has honed their violent tendencies — so that they can reassimilate into society when our government’s done using them.

Prototype three: the pink-slip ribbon. This little bright spot on the back of your bumper will honor the returning veterans who can’t find a job. According to Military.com, the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics found the 2005 jobless rate for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to be three times the national average; a whopping 15 percent for our heroes between the ages of 20 and 24.

And lastly there’s the gold-watch ribbon. Heck this one’s so nice you could get two and put one on your fridge so that you can think of a wounded veteran whenever you grab a snack. Otherwise these ribbons on your car just remind the folks driving behind you of their obligation to care for our valiant men and women.

The gold-watch ribbon highlights all the active-duty service personnel whom the U.S. government retires to keep from getting full benefits. A 2007 news expose by KABC in Los Angeles explained, “Veterans, facing medical troubles, are trying to deal with their injuries, and find that they can’t get the care they want, because they’ve been forced out of active duty.”

If you’ve lost someone you love, then every day is Memorial Day.

This year let’s honor those still with us.

Pat LaMarche of Yarmouth is the spokesperson for the Evergreen Mountain Resort & Casino referendum campaign and the author of “Left Out in America.” She may be reached at PatLaMarche@hotmail.com.

Memorial Day: How the U.S. treats its veterans

Memorial Day

by: Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, truthout

We honor our war dead this Memorial Day weekend. The greatest respect we could pay them would be to pledge no more wars for erroneous and misleading reasons; no more killing and wounding except for the defense of our country and our freedoms.

    We also could honor our dead by caring for the living, and do better at it than we are right now.

There has been a flurry of allegations concerning neglect, malpractice and corner-cutting at the Veterans Administration, especially for those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD – or major depression, brought on by combat.

    A report released by the Rand Corporation last month indicates that approximately 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer PTSD or major depression. That’s one of every five military men and women who have served over there.

Read more….