Hillary Clinton: Standing Up For Our Service Members And Veterans
Today in Huntington, West Virginia, Hillary Clinton met with Brigadier General Jack Yeager (Ret.), Iraq war veteran Michael Morgan, and other veterans at a roundtable meeting to discuss her proposals to honor those who have served our country. She highlighted her plans to right the wrongs of Walter Reed, provide health care and benefits to those who have served our country, and build on her work on the Senate Armed Services Committee to reduce strains placed on our troops and their families.
A CHAMPION FOR VETERANS
When Hillary is President, she will make sure that every member of our armed forces will receive a fair shot at the American Dream when their service is over. West Virginia is among the states with the highest number of veterans per capita, with more than 180,000 veterans residing in the state. Hillary will ensure that every veteran in West Virginia and all across America will have health care. She will work so that every veteran receives the benefits they have earned and the assistance they need - right from the start. And she will make sure no soldier ever loses a bonus because he or she has been injured in service. As President, Hillary will:
Enact a GI Bill of Rights for the Twenty-first Century. Hillary will enact a GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century that will resurrect the spirit of the original 1944 GI Bill and offer service members, veterans and their families with expanded education, housing and entrepreneurial benefits. Her plan will guarantee equal access for all components of the Armed Forces -- Active, Guard and Reserve -- that have deployed overseas in support of a combat operation since September 11 or served two years of active duty since September 11. She will fund undergraduate education for service members, as well as education for specialized trade or technical training, and certification and licensing programs. She will make GI educational benefits transferable within families. She will expand the VA Home Loan Guaranty program to allow veterans to use low-interest, no-fee loans to purchase, build or improve a home valued up to $625,000. She will establish a Veterans Microloan Program to provide veterans with no-collateral, low-interest microloans of up to $100,000 for entrepreneurial ventures.
Fully Fund the VA. Senator Clinton believes there is no more important way of honoring veterans than ensuring they can receive quality care through the VA. As President, she will push to have guaranteed funding for the VA. She does not believe the VA should be fighting every year to get money for the people who take care of us.
Provide Affordable and Quality Health Care for All Veterans. In West Virginia alone, over 3,300 servicemembers and veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have sought health care from the VA since returning home. As President, Hillary will ensure that all of the 1.8 million uninsured veterans in this country and the more than 180,000 veterans in West Virginia have access to quality, affordable health care. She will restore the Clinton-era policy that opened the VA's excellent and cost-effective health care system to all veterans who seek to enroll. She will make a long-term commitment to the VA system to ensure it is adequately funded and has the capacity to avoid backlogs and to handle greater enrollments. And she will provide coverage through the American Health Choices Plan to all veterans who choose not to use the VA system.
Ensure All Veterans Receive the Benefits They Have Earned and the Assistance They Need -- Right from the Start. As President, Hillary will commit to getting a fair, accurate, and timely decision for every veteran filing a disability claim. She will increase the number of qualified VA evaluators to reduce the backlog of claims. She will provide fast-track training for new claims specialists and expand the Benefits Delivery at Discharge Program to smooth the transition from service to discharge for all those who serve our country.
Extend Hiring Preferences to Veterans-friendly Contractors. Today, there are between 7.2 and 7.6 million federal contractors, 2 million more than there were five years ago. The privatization of government by the Bush administration has meant veterans are losing job opportunities, because contractors do not necessarily have the same hiring policies as the federal government. Hillary will cut the number of contractors working for the federal government by 500,000 over the next 10 years, saving $10 to $18 billion a year. And she will restore and expand job opportunities for veterans by working to establish a system through which federal contractors afford veterans hiring preference comparable to the federal government's.
Give Veterans Additional Opportunities to Serve. Hillary will make vouchers worth up to $10,000 available to returning veterans who want to serve in AmeriCorps and select not-for-profit organizations. These organizations would provide at least $5,000 to supplement the voucher. This system will help veterans create normal routines and reenter their communities while doing meaningful work serving their country. Hillary will make this subsidy available to as many as 20,000 veterans a year.
Reduce Homelessness among Veterans. In 2006, nearly 200,000 veterans were homeless on any given night. The VA centers in West Virginia offer programs to assist homeless veterans, including homeless outreach workers who counsel homeless veterans and staffs that provide clinical and vocational services to homeless veterans. As President, Hillary will work to ensure that every veteran in West Virginia and the country have homes and receive the care they deserve. Hillary will establish a pilot program on homelessness prevention for veterans that will provide subsidies, eviction prevention, and one-time assistance for veterans who fall behind on their rent. She will also expand rental assistance for veterans by calling on Congress to fund an additional 20,000 housing choice vouchers exclusively for homeless veterans.
Expand the Helmets to Hardhats Program. Hillary will increase funding for the Helmets to Hardhats program. This program links veterans with local job opportunities in the construction and trade industries by offering apprenticeship programs that teach veterans through on-the-job training supplemented by classroom instruction.
Expand Veterans Homeownership. Hillary will make homeownership more affordable for veterans. Veterans will receive a 50% discount on foreclosed properties in the government’s inventory, which currently stands at 35,000 homes. And she will eliminate the upfront fees on VA mortgages for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who take out VA loans within two years of leaving active duty.
ENSURING A STRONG AND READY MILITARY
As President, Hillary will ensure that our troops receive sufficient time at home between deployments to rest, reconnect with their families, and receive appropriate training for their next mission.
Reduce Strains on Our Troops. As President, Hillary will reduce the length of overseas deployments so that for every 12 months our soldiers spend in the field, they will have at least 12 months at home. Our Marines will have a similar standard appropriate for their service in the Corps. She will adopt other readiness standards encompassed in legislation introduced by Representative Jack Murtha.
Assess Impact of Iraq Deployments on Readiness. In the Senate, Hillary won approval of measures to provide greater transparency about the strains on our armed forces, particularly in light of deployments in Iraq. Her amendment to the 2008 Defense Authorization Act requires the Government Accountability Office to assess the ability of ground forces to meet the requirements of increased force levels in Iraq and Afghanistan and to identify and evaluate strategic and operational risks. Her measure requires the GAO to identify the time required to make forces available and prepare them for deployment.
RIGHTING THE WRONGS OF WALTER REED
More than a year ago, news reports revealed the shocking treatment of wounded service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It became evident that these problems were not unique, but represented a broader failure to provide our wounded warriors with the care and benefits they need and deserve. Many problems persist, and President Bush’s proposed budget cuts needed programs. The Fiscal 2009 budget released February 5 eliminates the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Program, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration; provides only modest reductions in claims processing wait times, from 177 days to 145 to process disability claims for separating service members or veterans; and fails to guarantee funding of the VA, leaving professionals at the Department unsure of next year's budget.
Hillary Clinton will not wait for another Walter Reed scandal to ensure our veterans receive the care they have earned.
Restore and Expand TBI Program. Hillary Clinton joined Senator Barbara Mikulski in writing to President Bush, calling on him to reverse his plan to eliminate the Traumatic Brain Injury Program, which has a been a crucial component of the federal government’s system of care for the million of Americans dealing with TBI, including many veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The program that was eliminated by President Bush’s budget provides grants to states to help them develop systems of care for those impacted by such injuries; these grants are essential components of our national system of care for all Americans impacted by TBI. If President Bush does not restore this program, as President, Hillary will. Hillary will also improve the assessment, detection and treatment of TBI, as well as expand support systems for veterans and their families.
Fully Implement Walter Reed Recommendations. When she is President, Hillary will implement the recommendations of the Commission on the Care for Wounded Warriors, led by former Senator Bob Dole and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala. She will implement comprehensive recovery plans for each wounded warrior that provides the right care and support at the right time in the right place. She will streamline the transition from DoD to VA care. She will personally instruct her Secretary of Defense to recruit and retain first-rate professionals to staff our military hospitals.
A RECORD OF DELIVERING FOR VETERANS AND SERVICE MEMBERS
Hillary Clinton has a long history of fighting for our veterans and will work to ensure our country fulfills its obligations to those who have served and sacrificed for the nation. Hillary has the record and experience to deliver that change.
That's why she has always fought for veterans in the Senate. From tokens of respect, like free postage when you write to a service member in Iraq or Afghanistan. To practical help, like providing expanded access to temporary housing when you move so you don’t have to pay out of your own pocket. To the critical work of helping you care for our wounded warriors by expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act and by passing elements of the Heroes at Home Act to help family members care for those with Traumatic Brain Injury. And she will always fight for you as President.
Expanding TRICARE Access. Hillary Clinton crossed the aisle to work with Senator Lindsey Graham to get access to TRICARE, the military health insurance program, for all National Guard members and Reservists, even when they are not deployed. As a result of Hillary’s work with Senator Graham, approximately 6,000 members of the West Virginia National Guard have access to TRICARE, whether they are actively deployed or not.
Supporting Service Members with TBI. Senator Clinton authored the Heroes at Home Act, which would establish a program to help families learn how to care for returning veterans with TBI, as well as require DoD to do pre- and post-deployment screenings.
Increasing Survivor Benefit. She worked with others in the Senate to pass legislation to increase the military survivor benefit from $12,000 to $100,000.
Extending FMLA Benefits. She helped pass the Support for Injured Servicemembers Act, which extends the benefits provided under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by allowing the families of wounded military personnel to take up to six months of unpaid leave to care for their loved ones during the often lengthy rehabilitation process.
Improving TBI Screening and Care. She successfully included a provision in the recently enacted Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act to mandate that the Department of Defense implement a screening protocol for Traumatic Brain Injury within 180 days. The nearly 1,000 young West Virginia citizens that join the armed forces each year, along with members of the National Guard and Airmen from the state, now receive regular health screenings to detect Traumatic Brain Injury, thanks to legislation Hillary introduced. In addition, in 2006, Senator Clinton authored provisions in the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 that increased research into ways to improve TBI care for veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So it's birthday 5 for the illegal war today and Hillary has a plan to end the illegal war and has a plan for those who served as well. That's because she's a real candidate and not someone running because they just want the title to feed their own ego. No one loves digging in and getting to work more than Hillary Clinton. Put her to work for the country and she will gladly go about the job. She will not be the vacationing president. She will not be the president who cries racism everytime she's called out for something.
She has not and wound not be a member of any church whose pastor damned the United States in a Sunday service. She has enough patriotism and pride in her country to be disgusted by such a sermon. She would not stand before the American people and make excuses for such offensive statements.
Barack Obama belongs to a church (still belongs) where a pastor (who recently retired) damned the United States in a sermon. It is a huge problem and goes to his fitness to lead. Forget about the fact that he's not up to the role of commander-in-chief, he's not fit to lead. You can't take part in a church that damns America and claim you can represent the United States.
Barack Obama should have immediately left that church. He did not do so. He remained a member and he stayed silent about what happened refusing to inform the public. Last week ABC's Good Morning America played clips of some of the sermons Jeremiah Wright offered up including the damning of this country. They had those clips because it wasn't enough that Wright declared it in a sermon, it was so important to him and the church (that Obama belongs to) that he felt the need to sell copies of it.
You cannot take part in the damning of the country and run for the presidency.
By staying in that church, Obama took part in it. By being silent on it until after ABC played the clips, Obama took part in it. By giving a nonsense speech yesterday that never addressed the fact that the United States was damned in a sermon at his church, Obama took part in it.
America wants to be proud of their president. We've had seven years where we couldn't be. We want that back. We want to believe that the president will do everything in their power to make the country better. We cannot believe a man who takes part in damning the country is someone would will provide a better America.
Barack Obama's decision to remain with the church was spitting in the face of the country.
It is not about race. It is not about the number of any segment of the population in prison. It is about Wright damning the United States.
That is offensive. It will always be offensive. Anyone who decided to remain with that church (or was too stupid to grasp how offensive it was) has no place being president of the United States.
As C.I. notes, Obama had the chance to get honest with the people yesterday and decided instead to avoid reality and give a speech about racism.
What a surprise. That's all the one-trick pony ever offers, cries of racism.
He is unfit for office.
In this country, we're encouraged to stand for the national anthem and place our hands over our hearts. It is not a law. It is a sign of patriotism. It can be followed or ignored. But we don't expect such disrespect for the country from presidential candidates. If Obama had any respect for the country, he would immediately announce he was resigning from the race.
Instead he wants to pretend that he can bring the country together -- that would be the one his pastor damned with no outcry from Bambi.
That's really all I've got to say tonight. I'm disgusted that someone who thinks the United States should be damned is running for president. I'm disgusted that the illegal war drags on. I'm disgusted that with Panhandle Media and all the excuses they make for their man-crush. There's a reason the Iraq War hasn't ended and it goes straight to the crap served up by Panhandle Media.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Wednesday, March 19, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Winter Soldier has even more bearing today on the fifth anniversary of the illegal war but continues to be ignored, members of the Out of Iraq caucus issue a statement and Panhandle Media ignores it, and Bully Boy itches to lie to the American people yet again.
Starting with war resistance. Tamara Jones (Washington Post) interviewed war resisters in Canada for a report the paper ran earlier this week. Phil McDowell shared how he had finished his tour of duty in Iraq, he had completed his service contract, been discharged in June of 2006, only to learn that he was being stop-lossed. He explained, "I tried contacting senators and congressmen. I tried to contact civilian military lawyers, but they all said the time frame was too short." He signed up after 9-11 and thought he would be serving a larger purpose, one that "would define our generation" only to learn differently, that the search for WMDs had ceased, that the rationale was now "freedom" for Iraqi, "But then we'd go on convoys and they'd instruct us to run cars off the road if they were in our way. . . . It's a hard personal realization to join the Army out of patriotism and accept your country was wrong." Learning he was being forced back into the military, McDowell began searching for alternatives and with Congress and military lawyers refusing to help, he found the website for the War Resisters Support Campaign. That is an organization that assists US service members who go to Canada to seek asylum. Two earlier war resisters, Lee Zaslofsky, Tom Riley and others provide assistance to today's war resisters::
Zaslofsky and Riley never even knew each other before this movement, and both feel frustrated that more Vietnam-era settlers haven't come forward. Don't they owe that much? "Ancient history," they hear again and again from the weary grandfathers who want to forget that they were once angry young men. Plans are being made to develop a Web site, do some documentaries, organize more events to draw out the graying Vietnam generation. Thousands, not a few hundred, should be rising up again for this fight, Zaslofsky fumes.
Now the volunteers are labeling 800 envelopes for the letters they'll urge rallygoers to send to Ottawa. In her pink hoodie and ponytail, Phil McDowell's wife, Jamime Aponte, 28, runs the meeting with the precision and enthusiasm of a majorette. She wants to know: Who's been putting up posters where? Are there enough pens to hand out at the church?
Zaslofsky is grateful for her energy. He is weary and not a little disgruntled, himself. He thought he would be easing into a comfortable retirement by now after a career in public health, but here he is working himself ragged for $200 a week as the WRSC director, which just covers his rent, and why is the adopted country he has grown to love making this so damn hard?
"I feel so lucky that my generation of war resisters had it far easier than they do, and probably had a much easier time of it emotionally because there were so many more of us, and because so many more Americans were actively opposing the war than do so now," Zaslofsky says. "They don't have a widespread social movement backing them up."
The letters are necessary because in November the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. Today, Canada's Parliament remaining the best hope for safe harbor war resisters have, you can make your voice heard by the Canadian parliament which has the ability to pass legislation to grant war resisters the right to remain in Canada. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. That is the sort of thing that should receive attention but instead it's ignored. We will note war resisters in Canada tomorrow. There is not time today, my apologies.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
On the fifth anniversary of the illegal war, the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war stands at 3992 -- eight away from 4,000. Many others died after they made it out of Iraq. Some on R&R in places like Kuwait. Some were transported to the US and placed in hospitals to care for their wounds only to die from those wounds (Anthony Raymond Wasielewsk, Gerald J. Cassidy, Jack D. Richards, Raymond A. Salerno III and John "Bill" Smith). Some returned only to find a medical system that was falling apart and did not serve them, did not treat them and they took their own lives and there are many examples there including Jeffrey Lucey whose parents, Kevin and Joyce Lucey, testified on Friday at Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldier Investigation's panel on The Crisis in Veterans Health Care. Joyce Lucey explained of her family's loss, "Unfortunately the tragedy is not that it just happened to one Marine but that this continues to happen to others four years after our son's death to countless others -- names that will never be placed on a memorial wall." The death toll for US service members is much greater than the official numbers from the Pentagon. As Daniel Fanning noted during Winter Soldier, "that number doesn't even take into the number of people who have come home with PTSD and taken their own lives."
Iraq veteran Fanning was speaking Sunday morning as part of the panel on The Breakdown of the Military. His testimony would include time and resources wasted in a military stretched to the limit including training in the use of bayonets (a weapon, he noted, that hadn't been used in decades), missions that were based on bad intel (raiding a 'bombing factory' that was just an empty building being painted by one person). Steve Mortello addressed the breakdown as well and the constant maintenance required on equipment and vehicles that were breaking down. He spoke of returning to the US and being diagnosed with PTSD, "I remember just this feeling that I told myself after I got through this everything would be cool. . . . I'll never forget the things that happened over there and I think about them every day and I hope wholeheartedly the American people can understand the impact this occupation has had on the American military . . . It's tearing us apart."
On the same panel, Iraq veteran Kristofer Goldsmith offered testimony. He noted he never saw work done on the water treatment plant in Sadr City, he never saw al Qaeda. He saw destruction, he saw Iraqi civilians turned into prisoners of war, he saw stop-loss. Most of all, he saw a refusal to treat US service members. "We were told that if we were to seek" mental healthcare, he explained, "we would be locked away." They were also told it would be the end of their military careers. Since no medical assistance was provided, he did what many do, self-medicate. He talked of getting drunk and using alcohol to treat his wounds. He was diagnosed with PTSD and still received no help but was told he would be redeploying to Iraq. Shortly after that, he attempted to take his own life and woke up "locked to a gurney and in a mental ward" while the military was still wanting to deploy him and accusing him of 'malingering' to avoid his call up. He was held accountable for that and told he couldn't fight it because to do so would bring down the military system. His discharge papers note his "serious offense," he explained, "I committed a serious offense by trying to kill myself because I was damaged by the war." Because of that "serious offense," the Iraq War veteran is denied the only thing he was counting on receiving: education benefits. He now delivers pizzas because it's the only job he could find where he can call in and say he's going to be three hours late because he's still standing in line at the VA waiting for assistance.
He did something else during his testimony. He spoke of a book that helped him, a book that informed him. We're not naming the book because the authors have disgraced themselves. One of the authors is David Corn. (The other's human slime whose name is never mentioned at this site.) David Corn bores America, at Mother Jones, with yet another mash note today to Barack Obama. David Corn's book influenced someone, someone who took the time to give it credit during his Winter Soldier testimony and Corn has so little manners, so little gratitude that anyone read that book, so little concern for the illegal war, that he can't even take a moment to blog at Mother Jones about the veteran -- whose suffering continues -- who took the time to mention Corn by name. That's shameful. That's embarrassing.
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) continued bringing the testimonies from Winter Soldier to her audience today. She featured Camilo Mejia, Mike Totten, Kevin and Joyce Lucey, Tanya Austin and Jeffrey Smith. Tanya Austin hasn't been mentioned in a snapshot so far so we'll excerpt some of her testimony:
If you guys could throw up the website, please? What we have up here is stopmilitaryrape.com--or dot-org, sorry. And what's really cool about this website is it was this individual's way of telling her story and trying to make progress, because the military didn't do anything to help her. So, finally, she decided, well, if the military won't help me, I'm going to help me and everyone like me. As you see there on the homepage, these are some really frightening statistics. 25 percent of women will be sexually assaulted on college campuses. 12 percent of women will be raped while in college. 28 to 66 percent of women in the military report sexual assault. The reason the number varies so much is military reports versus VA reports. It's a lot easier to tell someone at the VA that you've been sexually assaulted than it is to tell your own command, which is not right. And 27 percent of women are reported raped. And what's interesting about this statistic is if you report that you've been raped and no charges are brought against your rapist, you haven't been raped. You're not part of that statistic. And, unfortunately, for our military, this is something that happens way too often, is the cover-up of sexual assault, of rape of individuals experiencing the worst from their comrades. So here is what they're currently doing about it. According to the Department of Defense's own statistics, 74 to 85 percent of soldiers convicted of rape or sexual assault leave the military with an honorable discharge, meaning rape conviction does not appear in their records anywhere. Only two to three percent of soldiers accused of rape are ever court-martialed. And only five to six percent of soldiers accused of domestic abuse are ever court-martialed. In fact, several multiple homicides have recently taken place on military bases that have not even been criminally prosecuted. The Department of Defense's definition of morale booster for male soldiers: female soldiers--take as needed, dispose when finished and continue serving with honor. Please remember that many suffer in silent shame and never forget what's going on. Now I'd like to tell this individual's particular story. And having experienced sexual harassment in the military myself, this is kind of difficult, as it is for everyone on this panel up here. But our stories need to be told. We are often asked how we get started with Stop Military Rape, Military Rape Crisis Center. I'm a veteran of the United States Coast Guard and a survivor of military sexual trauma. I was raped in May of 2006 by a fellow shipmate. I followed all the necessary steps, including reporting the assault and providing evidence: a confession letter written by my rapist. In August of 2006, I was informed that I will be discharged. According to the Coast Guard Academy psychologist, surviving rape makes deployment--makes one ineligible for worldwide deployment, and as a result, I can no longer serve in the Coast Guard. What follows was a nine-month battle between the Coast Guard and myself, while I tried to keep my job and change the Coast Guard's unofficial policy that rape survivors shouldn't be allowed to serve in the Coast Guard. I was a female in my early twenties, brand new to the Coast Guard. I admit it: I did not know every Coast Guard policy or try to know something beyond my E3 rank. All I know is that what was happening to me was not--was just not right. I felt powerless. I didn't know how to fight the military. I was taught how to fight with them, for them. But how could I fight for my rights to stay with them? Out of the need to vent and needing an outlet to express the horror I was experiencing as a result of being raped, I started an online blog on MySpace. I was not expecting much of it. I just wanted to let out all the pain in me and share with the public. I almost immediately started receiving emails from active-duty military members and veterans alike, each wanting to share their story. Everybody's story was so different, yet so similar. I received one email from an eighteen-year-old female who was raped two hours prior by a member of her command and was scared and had no one else to turn to. I received an email from a Coast Guard veteran who was raped ten-plus years ago while serving, and I was the first person he ever told. I started doing research online about military rape. I learned about Tailhook and read the brave story of Army Specialist Suzanne Swift. What was happening to me in the Coast Guard was very common and had been going on for a long time. I knew that I was in for the biggest battle of my life. I could not abandon my fellow men and women in uniform. Something's got to change. Stop Military Rape and the Military Rape Crisis Center was formed. We are the nation's largest support group for the survivors of military sexual trauma. In 2007, we assisted over 12,000 men and women of military sexual trauma and their families. We are starting to work with Congress to change the military policy of sexual assault. Every man and woman that volunteer to serve their country should have the right to serve without the fear of being sexually assaulted, harassed and/or raped. In addition, no one should be reprimanded or punished for reporting a crime that was done to them. May 30th is International Stop Military Rape Awareness Day. Write to your representatives, contact the media, do what we're doing now, and let them know that military rape is something we just can't stand for.
Madeleine Mysko (Baltimore Sun) draws on her experience in the US Army Nurse Corps during Vietnam to reflect on Winter Soldier:
Kelly Dougherty, former sergeant in the Colorado Army National Guard and present executive director of IVAW, warned that it would not be easy to listen to these testimonials. "But we believe that the only way this war is going to end is if the American people truly understand what we have done in their name."
A certain kind of patriotism closes off a lot of otherwise good minds. It accepts the testimony of the decorated general without question but shuns the testimony of the ordinary soldier as seditious.
After my basic training in 1969, I was assigned to the burn ward at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. It was hard work, but I think I was a good nurse, maybe even a good officer. Our unit had an ironclad esprit de corps; all of us, regardless of rank, worked with one accord for the sake of those terribly wounded soldiers, alleviating their pain when we could, cheering on the remarkable survivors, trying to make the others comfortable until the end.
Meanwhile, beyond the gates of the post, veterans in beat-up uniforms were angrily protesting against the war. Their stories about atrocities and lies and failed policies were too much for me to take in. I still had no time to read the news. But with all my heart, I wanted the war to end as much as they did, so that the days of burned flesh and amputations would be over.
It was a very long time before those days were over.
Winter Soldier provided realities about the Iraq War (and Afghanistan), about what's happening in the service and what happens when leaving the service. It as a very important action. If you missed it, archives of Winter Soldier can be found at Iraq Veterans Against the War, at War Comes Home, at KPFK, at the Pacifica Radio homepage and at KPFA, here for Friday, here for Saturday, here for Sunday. Aimee Allison (co-host of the station's The Morning Show and co-author with David Solnit of Army Of None) and Aaron Glantz were the anchors for Pacifica's live coverage (and archives are now up at Pacifica Radio).
And the war drags on. US Senator Jim Webb spoke with the Christian Science Monitor (link has text and video) today about the Bully Boy's efforts to circumvent the Constitution and Congress (as well as the Iraqi Parliament and Iraq's Constitution) by negotiating a treaty with Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, that would tie the US to Iraq for many years to come. Webb explained, "The new president" of the United States, "is going to inherit this agreement" and this will make things "more difficult for a Democratic president to change course than for a Republican to continue the same course."
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "a magnetic bomb attached to Col. Midhat Ali, military" intelligence, "exploded" in Baghdad claiming his life and wounding a passenger, a Baghdad grenade attack on the "Awakening" council that wounded three of them as well as one bystander and a Diyala Province bomber who killed herself and 3 other people. Reuters reports the US military killed 3 Iraqi police officers and wounded one more via "their vehicle drone" in Kirkuk, a Mosul car bombing left eleven Iraqi soldiers and three Iraqi civilians injured, an Iskandariya roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two others wounded while a second Iskandariya roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 woman and left two more wounded.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a robbery in Baghdad where "140 million Iraqi dinars" were stolen from a currency exchange killing 2 people ("the owner and his son"), an armed attack in Tikrit on the "Awakening" council that claimed 1 council member's life and left two more injured. Reuters notes a Basra shooting that wounded an assistant to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Reuters notes 2 corpses discovered in Kerbala, and, on Tuesday, two in Baiji.
How damn pathetic is Panhandle Media? They didn't call out Barack Obama when then foreign policy advisor Samantha Power told the BBC his 'pledge' to bring combat troops home within 16 months of entering the White House. They ignored it. They played dumb and silent. Self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders and Tom Hayden both endorsed Bambi and then showed up days after to claim that both Obama and Hillary Clinton -- the two candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for president -- needed to have their feet held to the fire on Iraq. But both played dumb about Power's interview. (And it is "Power" -- not "Powers" -- one of the many factual problems in Davey D's embarrassing 'report' featured on KPFA's The Morning Show yesterday that Aileen Alfandary found so 'factual' and 'informative' she had to replay it. If you can't even get the names right, it doesn't belong on the radio. That was the least of the problems since Davey D also couldn't mention the revelation that the pledge wasn't a pledge.) They have to lie and work overtime to prop up a candidate who is not for ending the illegal war and they can tell their lies to someone who didn't speak to him face to face about this very thing when he was running for the US Senate only to discover then that, despite the press hype already going on, he wasn't going to do a damn thing to end the illegal war. He got into the US Senate and kept that vow. Yesterday, we noted the speech Hillary Clinton gave about ending the Iraq War. It wasn't noted by Alfandary or Amy Goodman, it wasn't 'news' to them. They could both pimp a bad speech by Obama that hadn't even been delivered. Today the silence continues and members (not all) of the Out of Iraq Caucus in Congress have weighed in on Hillary Clinton and the illegal war. This is what they have said and you need to ask yourself why Panhandle Media can't tell you about it:
As firm opponents of the Iraq war, we believe there is no higher priority for the next President of the United States than ending this war, and we believe there is no one better prepared and more committed to bringing this war to a responsible conclusion than Hillary Clinton. The best way to honor the sacrifices of our brave young men and women in uniform is to bring them home.
We support Hillary Clinton because she is the candidate with the stature, strength, and experience needed to end this war as quickly and responsibly as possible.
Hillary has put forward the most comprehensive plan for bringing our troops home, with troop withdrawals beginning within 60 days of taking office. She bravely pressed the Pentagon to begin planning for the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. And she has introduced legislation to bar the Bush administration from unilaterally negotiating a long-term security agreement with the Iraqi government and thereby tying the hands of the next administration.
Hillary's commitment to ending this war is matched by her experience. Her knowledge of the armed forces, her service on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and her extraordinary efforts on behalf of our veterans have earned her the respect of our men and women in uniform.
We are proud to support her because we know that she is the candidate ready to bring our troops home.
Del. Donna Christian-Christensen (D-VI) Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) Rep. Michael McNulty (D-NY) Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA) Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
On the list above you'll find many names that Panhandle Media has applauded, has interviewed, has treated as heroes. Now they ignore them. Panhandle Media isn't trying to end the illegal war, they're trying to elect a candidate who will not only continue the illegal war but bring about new wars in Africa. That is the new battlefield. It's where the US military wants to move the new bases to. It is something that Panhandle Media works overtime to ignore. But they've got a candidate to elect and that matters more to them than information or journalism. Goodman noted the endorsement of Clinton by US House Rep John Murtha but she had to pimp Bambi first and pretend the affront to Americans was over Jeremiah Wright's comments about race; the affront was over that man of the cloth standing up at the front of a church and calling for the damnation of America. Goodman wasn't raised a Christian and seems bound and determined to ignore the offensive remark just as she works overtime to ignore the talk of killing Hillary Clinton that one of Obama's supporters -- a Las Vegas precinct captain, no less -- has put online.
The lies about the illegal war do not just come from the White House. But they do continue from the White House. The Bully Boy offered from the Pentagon today one lie after another. There isn't time or even a need to note them all. He's a known liar now. He sags in the poll, his word means little to the bulk of Americans. Gone are the days when it was considered 'radical' to call him the liar and bully he so clearly is.
On this day in 2003, the United States began Operation Iraqi Freedom. As the campaign unfolded, tens and thousands of our troops poured across the Iraqi border to liberate the Iraqi people and remove a regime that threatened free nations.
There was no threat to the United States. The United States was not threatened by Iraq. There were no WMDs, there was no basis for the illegal war beyond lies.
When the Iraqi regime was removed, it did not lay down its arms and surrender. Instead, former regime elements took off their uniforms and faded into the countryside to fight the emergence of a free Iraq. And then they were joined by foreign terrorists who were seeking to stop the advance of liberty in the Middle East and seeking to establish safe havens from which to plot new attacks across the world.
When the Iraqi regime was removed? L Paul Bremer, the bwana in Iraq sent by the US, disbanded the Iraqi army. He did so with the approval of and endorsement by the White House. In addition, government employees were tossed out of their jobs. That was the de-Baathification process that Bremer also oversaw. The de-de-Baathifaction process, though listed as one of the White House benchmarks to measure 'success' in Iraq, has still not taken place. All these years later, it has still not taken place. Terrorists? The US has implemented counter-insurgency strategies in Iraq, the same sort used to kill many in Latin America. Counter-insurgency is war on civilians. It was endorsed by Samantha Power who, at the start of the month, was still part of Obama's campaign. She, in fact, went to work for him when he was elected to the US Senate. She blurbed the counter-insurgency manual, gushing over it. Sarah Sewall oversaw the counter-insurgency manual. Sewall is another advisor to Obama. Obama's 'plan' is to add more mercenaries to Iraq if elected president. He will not just continue the counter-insurgency, he will escalate it. Most supporters of it serve as advisors to Obama. Counter-insurgency is used to kill civilians -- 'difficult' civilians whose 'crimes' include speaking out about abuses. Counter-insurgency is not a peace strategy.
If we were to allow our enemies to prevail in Iraq, the violence that is now declining would accelerate -- and Iraq would descend into chaos. Al Qaeda would regain its lost sanctuaries and establish new ones -- fomenting violence and terror that could spread beyond Iraq's borders, with serious consequences for the world's economy.
"Our enemies"? That would apparently be the Iraqi people who want all foreign forces to leave. Were the US government to stop attempting to play God and pull US troops, the Iraqi people could create the government they choose as opposed to having a puppet government installed by and beholden to the White House.
The illegal war continues as long as people fool themselves. They've had a good role model in that behavior with the occupant of the White House.
iraq veterans against the war
phil mcdowelltamara jonesthe washington post
aimeee allisondavid solnit
democracy nowamy goodman