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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #50 on: May 06, 2008, 11:42:36 AM »

May 5, 2008






Dear Employer:

   As the Chairman of the Orange County Veterans Employment Committee (OCVEC), I would like to invite you and your organization to participate in the “Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet” 24th Annual Ultimate Career Fair. The OCVEC, in partnership with the Employment Development Department Veterans’ Program, sponsors this annual event.

We are thrilled once again to be working with the Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The goal of the “Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet” 24th Annual Ultimate Career Fair is to bring together job seekers and employers. We anticipate a substantial number of qualified job seekers of varying backgrounds will attend this well-established employment opportunity event.   

The Fair will be held on Wednesday, May 21st 2008, 9am-1pm at the Anaheim Angel Stadium: 2000 East Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, California 92806. The Fair is open to the general public.  We have accommodations for over 85 employers.
   
Attached is a registration form for you to complete and return before May 14th. The registration fee of two hundred and fifty dollars ($250.00) is due upon registration. This fee includes: an 8’x 8’ curtained booth, 2 chairs, a 6 foot-table, booth signage, continental breakfast and a delicious sit down luncheon for two. If you have special requests, please make these known on the registration form.

The registration deadline is May 14th. Make your check payable to the OCVEC. We request that you fax a copy of the completed form to our office so that we can reserve a space for you.

   The Orange County Veterans Employment Committee looks forward to having you participate in this annual career fair. Contact a Veterans Representative at (714) 241-4955, if you require additional information.



Sincerely,
Dick Akins
Dick Akins
OCVEC Chairman

ADVISORY TO: EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT, STATE OF CALIFORNIA
2450 EAST LINCOLN AVENUE, SUITE 200, ANAHEIM, CA 92806-4272                                                                         
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #51 on: May 08, 2008, 11:31:03 AM »

Some folks have asked if I plan to do book signings in stores. None are planned because I need to take care of business here before heading back to the war, but I have been making dozens of media appearances and many more are scheduled this month.  The big issue at hand is the launch of my book Moment of Truth in Iraq.  Doesn't do any good to spend all that time on the battlefields if I do not take time to convey the facts to folks at home.
 
I'll try to sign one more gigantic stack of Moment of Truth before heading back to the war, but for those folks who were buying signed copies for Christmas presents, now is the best time as we still have about a thousand signed copies.
 
Amazon.com is fully stocked and has the lowest current price--$17.97 as I type this.

Moment of Truth is available at all Barnes & Noble stores and at BN.com at a reduced price.  Please click the link and enter your zip code to check availability of Moment of Truth in Iraq at nearby stores. This function maps nearby stores with copies in stock.
 
Great to be back in America but sure comes with a lot of work before heading back to Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
Next time you see a service member in an airport, please say "thank you" to him or her.  Those simple words go a long, long way.  Back in the war, I often have heard combat soldiers saying how good it made them feel when someone in an airport simply said "thank you" and kept on walking.  Very powerful words.  They hugely appreciate those words.
 
Your correspondent,
 
Michael Yon
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #52 on: May 24, 2008, 09:21:08 AM »

Protesting the Antiwar Protestors
By KEVIN FERRIS
May 24, 2008

West Chester, Pa.

Memorial Day isn't until Monday. But for Rich Davis, a 20-year veteran of the Navy, it seems to come every Saturday. That's when he pulls out a handmade sign and heads for a street corner near the Chester County Court House in this suburban Philadelphia community.

Mr. Davis, 54, is a pro-military protester who makes a public stand each week in support of the troops and their mission.

 
Sean Carpenter 
Supporters of the Chester County Victory Movement rally on May 17, 2008.
In 2001, Mr. Davis retired from the Navy and ended up settling in West Chester, where he spent 2006 and 2007 watching antiwar protesters rally each Saturday from 11 a.m. until noon outside the courthouse near his apartment. The Chester County Peace Movement, Mr. Davis would later learn, had been demonstrating at the site since March 2003, when the U.S. invaded Iraq. At first he hoped someone would challenge the protesters, speak up for the troops, and defend their mission. On Sept. 8, 2007 he decided that someone had to be him.

Mr. Davis had been building to such a decision for a long time. He was just a kid during the Vietnam War, but he is still bothered by the disrespect heaped on returning Vietnam vets in the 1960s and '70s. In part that is because, in 1967, Mr. Davis attended the funeral of a man he idolized – his sister's boyfriend, Marine Lance Cpl. Alan R. Schultz from Levittown, Pa. Schultz was killed by mortar fire in Vietnam.

"Al was a great guy," Mr. Davis remembers. "When we got the word that he had been killed, I felt the bottom fall out. I cried the rest of that summer."

Even today, Mr. Davis can't look at an antiwar protest without thinking that Schultz, his comrades and their modern-day counterparts are being disrespected. So after seeing the war protesters each week, Mr. Davis said to himself, "Not this war. Not this time."

"We're not silent anymore," Mr. Davis told me. "We refuse to let antiwar protesters have the stage to themselves."

Not that he wants to stifle dissent. He just doesn't want to go unanswered the signs and protests that he believes encourage the enemy and demoralize U.S. troops. So, sign in hand in September, he walked to the corner praying he would have the strength to stand there, to be seen and heard.

Seen he was. Though there was plenty of room on the corner, he says he was bumped, shoved and challenged. One person asked, "Do you live in fear?" Another demanded, "Why don't you go and serve?"

"They had that corner for five years, every Saturday, unopposed," Mr. Davis told me. "They couldn't stand the thought of one person having a sign they couldn't tolerate."

More people than the antiwar protesters took notice. A few weeks after he started his own weekly protests, Mr. Davis had about 40 sign-holding, flag-waving supporters at his side, thanks to support from the Gathering of Eagles, a national organization supporting the troops.

The number of antiwar protesters began to swell in response, which led to an increase in taunts hurled between the two groups. Mr. Davis admits the childish behavior cut both ways. "At times we have been confrontational and done things that were inappropriate, especially in the early days." But now, he says, "I have zero tolerance for yelling and buffoonery."

In March, an angry antiwar protester hit a woman who covers the weekly demonstrations on her pro-troop blog. That led the local police to lay down a few ground rules. Now each group is to keep to its own side of the street, and the two groups swap sides of the street each week.

There are a few other changes. Mr. Davis's once informal group is getting organized. They have a name, Chester County Victory Movement, and a Web site (www.americansheepdogs.com) that they use to share information about welcoming troops home, sending care packages, and joining discussions at West Chester University.

Mr. Davis also sends weekly emails to thank people for their support, and to pass on encouragement. A few members of Mr. Davis's group meet regularly to discuss problems. At these meetings, some people raise ideas aimed at embarrassing those on the antiwar side of the street. But Mr. Davis constantly refers back to the reason that brought him to the corner in the first place: letting the public and the troops know that there is a reservoir of support for the sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines who risk their lives to fight the war on terror.

"Every time we go out, I remind the guys that we represent more than ourselves," he told me. "The troops and their families look at us. So I hope we present ourselves with the same type of dignity, courage and honor that our own sons and daughters are showing in Iraq and Afghanistan."

What Mr. Davis wants those troops to see is the solid wall of red, white and blue of his group's flags and "Support Our Troops" signs. He averages about 30 supporters a week, but hopes for a larger turnout for Flag Day, June 14.

Mr. Davis notes that he has been accused of being part of a vast right-wing conspiracy that trains and pays pro-troop advocates. Asked about that, he offers an answer that may inspire others to join his efforts.

"In a way they're right," he told me. "I was trained by a family that taught me to love our country, not blame it. And I am paid by troops and their families who say thanks for doing this, thanks for being here."

Mr. Ferris is an assistant editor and columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #53 on: May 26, 2008, 02:29:57 PM »

From Michael Yon's website: http://www.michaelyon-online.com/
============================

Copies of my new book Moment of Truth in Iraq are in distribution, but this is the only place to get signed copies. Moment of Truth is available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. It is also available in Barnes & Noble and other major bookstores. Download this handout to give to your military exchange, local bookstore or library so that they may order the book.

Please support this mission by buying Moment of Truth today, or by making a direct contribution. Without your support, the mission will end. Thank you for helping me tell the full story of the struggle for Iraq.



  Comments (1)
Curiouser and curiouser
  Bob Owens at Pajamas Media hunts it down:


Please Click here.



Copies of my new book Moment of Truth in Iraq are in distribution, but this is the only place to get signed copies. Moment of Truth is available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. It is also available in Barnes & Noble and other major bookstores. Download this handout to give to your military exchange, local bookstore or library so that they may order the book.

Please support this mission by buying Moment of Truth today, or by making a direct contribution. Without your support, the mission will end. Thank you for helping me tell the full story of the struggle for Iraq.


  Comments (3)
Distributor Refuses to Carry "Moment of Truth in Iraq" on Military Bases
  Folks are asking why "Moment of Truth in Iraq" is not being carried on most military bases within the United States.



Here's why:

My publisher and literary agent have been working with the private companies who handle book distribution on military bases in order to get "Moment of Truth in Iraq" on their shelves. The process is arduous, to put it mildly.

They have succeeded in getting the book into overseas bases. But as the publisher and my agent are slowly working their way through US distributors who cover different geographic regions, they have been told "no" by the largest distributor, the Anderson News Company.

A letter from Anderson News:


Thank you for submitting Moment of Truth in Iraq to Anderson News for review. We have reviewed this book and do not consider it appropriate for our company to handle at this time, as it does not fit our current distribution needs and capabilities.

Thank you for considering us to distribute your book.

Sincerely,

Book Purchasing
Anderson News Company

Stunning response. Over the past weeks, as my literary agent spoke to Anderson while they reviewed the book, Anderson told him that the desires of the base exchange customers would have no influence and play no role in their decision making process. Anderson also stated that even appeals from high ranking military officers could not persuade Anderson to carry a title. Apparently, in Anderson's mind, they outrank the Joint Chiefs of Staff when it comes to doing business on military bases.

Anderson News Company has almost a complete monopoly over the books carried on Army, Navy and Air Force book shelves in the following US states:

ALABAMA, ARIZONA, ARKANSAS, COLORADO, FLORIDA, GEORGIA, HAWAII, ILLINOIS, INDIANA, IOWA, KANSAS, KENTUCKY, LOUISIANA, MISSISSIPPI, MISSOURI, N CAROLINA, NEBRASKA, NEVADA, NEW MEXICO, OHIO, OKLAHOMA, OREGON, S CAROLINA, TENNESSEE, TEXAS, UTAH, VIRGINIA, W VIRGINIA, WASHINGTON


The two military agencies, AAFES and NEXCOM, handle book distribution on base exchanges and work directly with private distributors such as Anderson News. AAFES and NEXCOM allow companies such as Anderson News to choose the books they will sell.

The best way to encourage Anderson to do the right thing is to contact the AAFES and NEXCOM, and encourage them to pay attention to what Anderson is not doing. My publisher and agent have tried without success.

If this is important to you, please call and request that base exchanges carry the book. Please be polite. You may also contact Anderson directly.

AAFES (Army & Air Force Exchange Service) handles Army and Air Force bases and the phone number for their book buying section is (214) 312-2741.

NEXCOM (Navy Exchange Service Command) handles Navy bases and the phone number for their book buying section is (757) 631-3465 .

Anderson News Company may be reached at (865) 588-0254. That is a general number and you will need to go to the operator and ask for the book buyers for military bases.


Please look at or print this handout: it contains all necessary information about "Moment of Truth in Iraq." The ISBN No. is 978-0-9800763-2-5.


While we struggle to get the book on exchange shelves, signed copies are still available and Barnes & Noble and Amazon are fully stocked. It also goes on front tables in Barnes & Noble stores across the country today. Hopefully, if we sell in Barnes & Noble stores, other book sellers will realize this is an important book they need to carry.

As always, I humbly thank you for your help and your efforts. You continue to make my sacrifices worthwhile.

Michael

 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #54 on: June 07, 2008, 07:36:49 AM »

Another Haditha Marine cleared
“Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them,” Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) said in May 2006, “and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood.” Murtha was referring to the Haditha “massacre,” an incident in which 24 Iraqi civilians were killed after a roadside bomb killed Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas in November 2005. Five Marines had already seen charges against them dropped, and this week brought a sixth. 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson finally got the not-guilty verdict for which he had waited more than two years. Grayson, who was actually not even present with the others at Haditha, was found not guilty of making false statements, obstruction of justice and attempting to separate from service fraudulently. One Marine, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, still awaits trial, but it seems to us that Murtha and others who have made a spectacle of the situation should be preparing their apologies.

patriotpost.com
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #55 on: June 29, 2008, 08:42:40 AM »

My Heart on the Line

By Frank Schaeffer

The Washington Post

Before my son became a Marine, I never thought much about who was
defending me. Now when I read of the war on terrorism or the coming conflict in
Iraq , it cuts to my heart. When I see a picture of a member of our military who
has been killed, I read his or her name very carefully. Sometimes I cry.

In 1999, when the barrel-chested Marine recruiter showed up in dress blues
and bedazzled my son John, I did not stand in the way. John was
headstrong, and he seemed to understand these stern, clean men with straight backs and
flawless uniforms. I did not. I live in the Volvo-driving, higher
education-worshiping North Shore of Boston. I write novels for a living. I
have never served in the military.

 It had been hard enough sending my two older children off to Georgetown
and New York University . John's enlisting was unexpected, so deeply
unsettling. I did not relish the prospect of answering the question,  "So where is
John going to college?" from the parents who were itching to tell me all about
how their son or daughter was going to Harvard. At the private high school
John attended, no other students were going into the military.

 "But aren't the Marines terribly Southern?" asked one perplexed mother
while standing next to me at the brunch following  graduation. "What a waste, he
was such a good student," said another parent. One parent (a professor at
a nearby and rather famous university) spoke up at a school meeting and
suggested that the school should "carefully evaluate what went wrong."

 When John graduated from three months of boot camp on Parris Island, 3,000
parents and friends were on the parade deck stands.  We parents and our
Marines not only were of many races but also were  representative of many
economic classes. Many were poor. Some arrived crammed in the backs of
pickups, others by bus. John told me that a lot of parents could not
afford the trip.

 We in the audience were white and Native American. We were Hispanic, Arab
and African American and Asian. We were former Marines wearing the scars
of battle, or at least baseball caps emblazoned with  battles' names. We were
Southern whites from Nashville and skinheads from New Jersey, black kids
from Cleveland wearing ghetto rags and white ex-cons with ham-hock
forearms defaced by jailhouse tattoos. We would not have been mistaken for the
educated and well-heeled parents gathered on the lawns of John's private
school a half-year before.

 After graduation one new Marine told John, "Before I was a Marine, if I
had ever seen you on my block I  would've probably killed you just because you
were standing there." This was a serious statement from one of John's good
friends, an African American ex-gang member from Detroit who, as John
said, "would die for me now, just like I'd die for him."

 My son has connected me to my country in a way that I was too selfish and
insular to experience before. I feel closer to the waitress at our local
diner than to some of my oldest friends. She has two sons in  the Corps.
They are facing the same dangers as my boy. When the guy who fixes my car
asks me how John is doing, I know he means it. His younger brother is in
the Navy.

 Why were I and the other parents at my son's private school so surprised
by his choice? During World War II, the sons and daughters of the most
powerful and educated families did their bit. If the idea of the immorality of the
Vietnam War was the only reason those lucky enough to go to college dodged
the draft, why did we not encourage our children to volunteer for military
service once that war was done?

 Have we wealthy and educated Americans all become pacifists? Is the world
a safe place? Or have we just  gotten used to having somebody else defend
us?

What is the future of our democracy when the sons and daughters of the
janitors at our elite universities are far more likely to be put in harm's
way than are any of the students whose dorms their parents clean?

 I feel shame because it took my son's joining the Marine Corps to make me
take notice of who is defending me. I feel hope because perhaps my son is
part of a future "greatest generation." As the storm clouds of war gather,
at least I know that I can look the men and women in  uniform in the eye.
My son is one of them. He is the best I have to offer. He is my heart.
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« Reply #56 on: June 30, 2008, 01:07:10 PM »

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080630/ap_on_re_us/blind_soldier&printer=1;_ylt=Aq6UZXum0E5gVdLSa5Z.H9VH2ocA

Blind Special Forces soldier: determined to serve
By KEVIN MAURER, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 34 minutes ago

When Capt. Ivan Castro joined the Army, he set goals: to jump out of planes, kick in doors and lead soldiers into combat. He achieved them all. Then the mortar round landed five feet away, blasting away his sight.

"Once you're blind, you have to set new goals," Castro said.

He set them higher.

Not content with just staying in the Army, he is the only blind officer serving in the Special Forces — the small, elite units famed for dropping behind enemy lines on combat missions.

As executive officer of the 7th Special Forces Group's headquarters company in Fort Bragg, Castro's duties don't directly involve combat, though they do have him taking part in just about everything that leads up to it.

"I am going to push the limits," the 40-year-old said. "I don't want to go to Fort Bragg and show up and sit in an office. I want to work every day and have a mission."

Since the war began in Iraq, more than 100 troops have been blinded and 247 others have lost sight in one eye. Only two other blind officers serve in the active-duty Army: one a captain studying to be an instructor at West Point, the other an instructor at the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Castro's unit commander said his is no charity assignment. Rather it draws on his experience as a Special Forces team member and platoon leader with the 82nd Airborne Division.

"The only reason that anyone serves with 7th Special Forces Group is if they have real talents," said Col. Sean Mulholland. "We don't treat (Castro) as a public affairs or a recruiting tool."

An 18-year Army veteran, Castro was a Ranger before completing Special Forces training, the grueling yearlong course many soldiers fail to finish. He joined the Special Forces as a weapons sergeant, earned an officer's commission and moved on to the 82nd — hoping to return one day to the Special Forces as a team leader.

Then life changed on a rooftop outside Youssifiyah, Iraq, in September 2006.

Castro had relieved other paratroopers atop a house after a night of fighting. He never heard the incoming mortar round. There was just a flash of light, then darkness.

Shrapnel tore through his body, breaking his arm and shoulder and shredding the left side of his face. Two other paratroopers died.

When Castro awoke six weeks later at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., his right eye was gone. Doctors were unable to save his left.

The Blinded Veterans Association estimates 13 percent of all combat hospital emergency procedures in Iraq have involved eye injuries and more than half of the soldiers with traumatic brain injuries also suffer some visual impairment. That makes them the third most common injury — behind post traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries — in Iraq.

"What he is doing is a strong example that blind individuals can lead exciting and meaningful careers," said Thomas Zampieri, director of government relations for the association.

After 17 months in recovery, Castro sought a permanent assignment in the service's Special Operations Command, landing duty with the 7th Special Forces Group. He focuses on managerial tasks while honing the group's Spanish training, a useful language for a unit that deploys regularly to train South American troops.

"I want to support the guys and make sure life is easier for those guys so that they can accomplish the mission," he said.

Though not fully independent, he spent a weekend before starting his job walking around the Group area at Fort Bragg to know just where he was going. He carefully measured the steps from car to office.

"Obviously, he cannot do some things that a sighted person can do. But Ivan will find a way to get done whatever he needs to get done," Mulholland said. "What I am most impressed with, though, is his determination to continue to serve his country after all that he's been through."

Castro works out regularly at the gym and runs, his legs powerful and muscular. And though he has a prosthetic right eye and his arms are scarred by shrapnel, his outsized personality overshadows his war wounds: Nobody escapes his booming hellos, friendly banter and limitless drive.

He ran the Boston marathon this year with Adm. Eric T. Olson, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Last year it was the Marine Corps Marathon. He wants to compete in the Ironman triathlon in Hawaii and graduate from the Army's officer advanced course, which teaches captains how to lead troops and plan operations.

Mulholland said Castro, who was awarded a Purple Heart like others wounded in combat, will always be part of the Special Forces family.

"I will fight for Ivan as long as Ivan wants to be in the Army," Mulholland said.

Married and the father of a 14-year-old son, Castro still needs help getting to the gym. He recently needed an escort to the front of the headquarters company formation, where he promoted a supply clerk.

Once in front, Ivan took charge.

Affixing the new soldier's rank to his uniform, Castro urged the soldier to perform two ranks higher. In the Special Forces, he said, one has to go above and beyond what is asked — advice he lives by.

"I want to be treated the same way as other officers," Castro said. "I don't want them to take pity over me or give me something I've not earned."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #57 on: September 02, 2008, 11:26:09 AM »

Endorsed by Michael Yon!

http://www.soldiersangels.org/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #58 on: November 10, 2008, 11:01:46 AM »

"Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have grown not only gray, but almost blind in the service of my country." --George Washington

USMC 233rd ANNIVERSARY
On 10 November 1775, the Second Continental Congress resolved to create two battalions of Continental Marines for the War of Independence from Britain. In 1798, President John Adams signed the Act establishing the United States Marine Corps.

It is the soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the campus [or community] organizer,
Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier, who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

-- Father Dennis Edward O'Brian, USMC

Semper Fi!

(In honor of our fellow Marines today, and in advance of honoring Veterans from all Service Branches tomorrow, at sunrise, we respectfully lowered, righted, and returned our flag to full mast. It is a beautiful day here in Tennessee, and our flag is waving briskly in the fall winds, a reminder of all that is still good and right with America.)

VETERANS DAY -- 11 NOVEMBER 2008
Tomorrow is Veterans Day.

We encourage all Patriots to set aside time and reflect on the sacrifice of our Patriot veterans and those serving today, and honor them accordingly.

On November 11, 1921, an unknown American soldier from World War I was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, in recognition of WWI veterans and in conjunction with the timing of cessation of hostilities at 11 a.m., November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). President Warren Harding requested that: "All ... citizens ... indulge in a period of silent thanks to God for these ... valorous lives and of supplication for His Divine mercy ... on our beloved country." Inscribed on the Tomb are the words: "Here lies in honored glory an American soldier know but to God." The day became known as "Armistice Day." In 1954, Congress, wanting to recognize the sacrifice of veterans since WWI, proposed to change Armistice Day to Veterans Day in their honor. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, former Supreme Commander in WWII, signed the legislation.

To honor those veterans who sacrificed all, an Army honor guard from the 3d U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) keeps day and night vigil at Arlington. At 11 a.m. Tuesday, a combined color guard representing all military service branches executes "Present Arms" at the tomb for the laying of a wreath by the president, followed by "Taps."

More than a million Patriots stand ready, or are actively defending our nation today. These men and women were not drafted into service, but volunteered to serve.

Every Friday, in our Profiles in Valor section, we tell the stories of some of these volunteers from around the nation.

Today, we include some brief remarks from four uniformed Patriots who call our local community home -- bright young people who could have pursued promising careers in the private sector, like many of their peers, but who chose a higher calling of service to our great nation. Mr. Alexander asked each of them for brief comment about that calling.

MD, 2nd Lieutenant, USMC. Graduate, Harvard University
"My faith compels me to invest my life in some form of service to others. As a student at Harvard, I became increasingly aware of the sacrifices being made by Americans of my generation overseas. While we debated the merits of policy decisions, they lived them out, putting their lives on the line for our country. I had always been proud of my father and grandfathers for their military service in their generations' wars. My father served as a Marine machine gunner in Vietnam, both of my grandfathers served during WWII as did my great-grandfathers in WWI. I felt like I had a duty to do my part now. I joined the Marines because I wanted to serve as close to the point of impact as I could, where leadership and sacrifice make the greatest difference. Whether in the deserts of Iraq or the schools, churches and offices here at home, I believe that we are all called to give of ourselves in service to others."

DK, Lieutenant JG, USN. Graduate, United States Naval Academy
"The past two weeks have been the toughest in flight school -- three check rides so that I could be instrument and solo qualified in the helicopter. I can't believe I get paid to fly and am looking forward to my real job out to the fleet. Leadership involves constantly analyzing yourself and a willingness to constantly better yourself, not for your own benefit but for those who work for you. All of the young sailors, marines, aircrew who serve in our military have CHOSEN to serve. I want to work with these men and women and give them opportunities to reach their goals and exceed the expectations (or lack of expectations) that their families or friends or society has set before them. I get the chance to make a difference in their lives -- I get to trust them with my life -- and I get to serve not above them but beside them for a common cause. I have found that the best military leaders are those that have a strong faith. So many have seen the worst and the best of mankind and they just have no other option but to trust God and keep going."

RN, Captain, USA. Graduate, Princeton University
"I came home and told my parents I kind of felt like something was missing from my college career, and signed up in 2001. If I come back limbless or dead, that's my fate, but I worry about it happening to my guys. You live with them, you train with them, you eat with them, you dig fighting positions with them, you share misery with them, learn about their families and their girlfriends and their dreams and hopes, and they're good men, deserving of a wonderful future, and you want them to have that future. It has been very rewarding to see the improvements here in the last two years. We were the last pre-surge battalion to redeploy and the improvements have been dramatic. I have had the pleasure to get to know many Iraqis very well. Soldiers patrolling heavily populated urban areas, such as our current area of operations, spend a great deal of time getting to know shop owners, local leaders and ordinary citizens. We are routinely invited into homes for Chai tea and food. There is certainly some animosity among some Iraqis, but most that I have encountered appreciate our reconstruction projects and efforts to support the local governments and their desires in the community."

DW, Ensign, USN. Graduate, United States Naval Academy
"While there are a multitude of convictions that led me into Naval Aviation (including the events of 9/11), there is one that stands out. I'll try to state it simply: the defense of our nation is a necessary task, and that task demands service and sacrifice from individuals who are both willing and able to do the jobs that are required of them. I was not comfortable sitting idly by and trusting that someone else will do that job instead. I am a strong believer in putting one's skills to use in the best manner possible, and in my case I feel like my current occupation is the one I am best suited for -- both as a naval officer and a tactical jet pilot. I find myself obligated to another eight years of service. Fortunately, I'm enjoying every day of it, and I find it easy to sleep at night with a sense of accomplishment and pride in what I am doing and why I'm doing it."

Clearly there is a common theme reflected in the comments from these four service personnel. They are motivated to serve a cause bigger than themselves. They put their country, and those under their commands, first. They have taken an oath to defend our Constitution not as a formality, but with their lives.

John Stuart Mill wrote, "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. A man who has nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

We are concerned that the next few years will be characterized by political leadership exemplifying precisely the character deficit that Mill describes.

We remain the proud and the free because American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen have stood bravely in harm's way, and remain on post today. For this, we, the American People, offer our heartfelt gratitude and thanks.

THE GIPPER
"It's been my responsibility, my duty and very much my honor to serve as Commander in Chief of this nation's Armed Forces these past eight years. That is the most sacred, most important ask of the Presidency. Since our nation's founding, the primary obligation of the national government has been the common defense of these United States. But as I have sought to perform this sacred task as best I could, I have done so with the knowledge that my role in this day-to-day-to-day effort, from sunrise to sunrise, every moment of every hour of every day of every year, is a glancing one compared to yours. ... But it's not just your fellow Americans who owe you a debt. No, I believe many more do, for I believe that military service in the Armed Forces of the United States is a profound form of service to all humankind. You stand engaged in an effort to keep America safe at home, to protect our allies and interests abroad, to keep the seas and the skies free of threat. Just as America stands as an example to the world of the inestimable benefits of freedom and democracy, so too an America with the capacity to project her power for the purpose of protecting and expanding freedom and democracy abroad benefits the suffering people of the world." --Ronald Reagan

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« Reply #59 on: December 05, 2008, 11:42:07 AM »


 The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
 I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
 My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
 My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
 Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
 Transforming the yard to a winter delight.


 The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
 Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
 My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
 Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
 In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
 So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.


 The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
 But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
 Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
 sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
 My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
 And I crept to the door just to see who was near.


 Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
 A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
 A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
 Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
 Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
 Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.


 "What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
 "Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
 Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
 You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
 For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
 Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..


To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
 Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
 I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
 "It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
 That separates you from the darkest of times.

 No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
 I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
 My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
 Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
 My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
 And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

 I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
 But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
 Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
 The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
 I can live through the cold and the being alone,
 Away from my family, my house and my home.

 I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
 I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
 I can carry the weight of killing another,
 Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
 Who stand at the front against any and all,
 To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

 "  So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
 Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
 "But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
 "Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
 It seems all too little for all that you've done,
 For being away from your wife and your son."

 Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
 "Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
 To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
 To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
 For when we come home, either standing or dead,
 To know you remember we fought and we bled.
 Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
 That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

 PLEASE, would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many
 people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our
 U.S service men and women for our being able to celebrate these
 festivities. Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people
 stop and think of our hero's, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us.

  LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
 30th Naval Construction Regiment
 OIC, Logistics Cell One
 Al Taqqadum, Iraq
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WSJ
« Reply #60 on: January 03, 2009, 09:59:59 AM »

By JONATHAN GURWITZ
San Antonio

When Judith Markelz took a job as program manager for the Soldier and Family Assistance Center at Fort Sam Houston, she thought she was signing up for a temporary position. The hope in 2003 was that the center here -- which coordinates care for soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, and helps their families navigate the military's health-care system -- could close its doors within six months.

It's been five years now and Mrs. Markelz is still on the job.

In the interim, more than 4,000 wounded soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen have received treatment at the nearby Brooke Army Medical Center. Many of them have come through her door looking to find everything from books and movies to pass the time, to a place where members of their families can stay while they recuperate.

For wounded warriors, arriving at the center coincides with the start of a sometimes months-long, painful rehabilitation. Depression and boredom are common.

"They are amazing people, with strength beyond anything I have ever seen," Mrs. Markelz tells me. "They cry at night, but they don't cry during the day."

Mrs. Markelz is a counselor, activity director and surrogate mother to all the soldiers in the center. "This is a new group of young men and women," the former schoolteacher says. "We need to be meeting their needs in any way we can."

The facility, which has been renamed the Warrior and Family Support Center, is a multipurpose community room, refuge and second home for wounded soldiers and their families. Enter it, and you can't help being overwhelmed by the bravery of the young men and women in uniform, and the outpouring of support from religious groups, businesses and individual volunteers who enrich it.

But for years you also couldn't help notice that the facility was too small for the number it cares for -- crammed into a 1,200-square-foot office in a guest house on post. This was suitable, perhaps, for a "temporary" center, but inadequate for something that had become an integral part of the military's health-care system.

Private donors are already doing a lot to help recuperating soldiers in San Antonio. In recent years, two "Fisher Houses" were built near Brooke Army Medical Center by the Fisher House Foundation to give family members of injured soldiers a place to stay. And across the street from Mrs. Markelz's facility is the gleaming new Center for the Intrepid, a state-of-the-art amputee and burn-victim rehabilitation facility built with private funds and donated to the Army.

"I'm not spiritual," Mrs. Markelz says when asked if she ever wondered whether the needs of her own facility would be met, "but there's magic in this room, and I don't know where it comes from. If I say something, if I say we're out of cookies, cookies walk in."

Les Huffman, a commercial developer, walked in one day in late 2006 and was overwhelmed -- by the spirit of the military personnel, by the devotion of the staff and volunteers, and by the obvious need for more space. Mr. Huffman and his brother Steve, sons of a career Air Force officer, decided to lead an effort to build larger quarters for the center.

In short order they created a nonprofit organization -- the Returning Heroes Home -- pulled together a board of directors, made a proffer to the Army, and started raising money. They sought input from the wounded soldiers, staff, doctors and rehabilitation specialists for the design.

The nonprofit raised $3.6 million in cash contributions and another $1.5 million worth of in-kind contributions that included 275 tons of limestone, computers, audio-visual equipment and more. More than 5,000 individuals, businesses and foundations donated in one way or another.

A little more than a year after breaking ground, the new Warrior and Family Support Center was complete. On Dec. 1, Mrs. Markelz began moving into her new 12,000-square foot home.

"The mission of this facility is to have an impact on the lives of these kids -- do something positive that's uplifting, get them out of the environment of depression in those barracks," Steve Huffman says.

A 24-foot Christmas tree stands in the lobby, decked with red, white and blue ornaments. Mrs. Markelz says, "It's not my new home. It belongs to the wounded warriors and their families. . . . It's not about me. They deserve it -- big time."

Critics ask why private efforts are needed, why the military isn't building these centers on its own. Paul Begala, for one, has said "t is an obscenity that a government that can find billions in no-bid contracts for Halliburton . . . cannot find a few million dollars to bind up the wounds of its heroes." Sen. Chris Dodd (D., Conn.) has sounded similar notes.

In Today's Opinion Journal
 

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

Harry Reid v. the ConstitutionCredit Default Swamp

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Declarations: In With the New
– Peggy NoonanPotomac Watch: The Senate Goes Wobbly on Card Check
– Kimberley A. Strassel

COMMENTARY

The Weekend Interview: London's Mayor Issues a Challenge to Gordon Brown
– Matthew KaminskiObama Will Find the White House Is a Lonely Place
– Jay WinikLet's Commit to a Nuclear-Free World
– Dianne FeinsteinCross Country: Government Alone Can't Do Right by Our Wounded Soldiers
– Jonathan GurwitzBlame Television for the Bubble
– Jim SollischSteve Huffman offers a partial answer to these critics. He says that the government recognizes the needs of the troops, as evidenced by its huge investment in military medicine, but it has to prioritize its spending and can't always fill in the gaps.

"I like to paraphrase what Arnold Fisher [the driving force behind the Center for the Intrepid] said," Steve Huffman told me. "This is not about philanthropy, this is not a gift. It's an obligation. It's a partial repayment on a debt we owe these guys."

We live in an era of earmarks and ever-expanding bailouts where there is seemingly little that the government is incapable of doing. But you cannot earmark bravery or budget patriotism. And perhaps that is the best justification for what citizens -- and not government alone -- should do to aid those who have volunteered to defend their freedoms.

Through the Returning Heroes Home Foundation the Huffmans are now raising money to create fitness trails on property adjacent to center they've just built. Steve Huffman explains the motivations for all of his efforts this way, "This is the most important thing I've ever done in my life."

Mr. Gurwitz is an editorial board member of the San Antonio Express-News.
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« Reply #61 on: January 16, 2009, 10:37:09 AM »

http://www.fightforthetroops.com - Make your donation here (Spike and UFC)
http://www.fallenheroesfund.org/
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« Reply #62 on: January 18, 2009, 09:03:32 PM »

Help the families of fallen Spec Ops Warriors
http://www.specialops.org
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« Reply #63 on: February 04, 2009, 04:33:35 PM »

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1129143/Soldier-lost-legs-Afghanistan-refused-permission-specially-adapted-bungalow-grandparents-land.html

Soldier who lost both legs in Afghanistan is refused permission for specially-adapted bungalow on grandparents' land
By Vanessa Allen
Last updated at 1:09 AM on 28th January 2009
Comments (95) Add to My Stories
 'Devastated': Marine Joe Townsend with his grandfather David Carter

After losing both legs to an anti-tank mine while serving in Afghanistan, 20-year-old Joe Townsend was trying his best to rebuild his life.

And after 20 operations in hospital, the Royal Marine’s grandfather gave him the best possible incentive to get better.
David Carter decided to build a modest bungalow on land near the home he shares with his wife Lynda, 60, to help Joe become more independent. It seemed the perfect solution.

But the council disagreed. Joe’s bungalow would be ‘intrusive’, planners said. And anyway, his case was not exceptional enough for them to waive strict laws and allow the bungalow to be built.

They narrowly ruled against the plans, even though there had been no objections – and despite a direct appeal from Joe, who was desperate to live near his family, in Pevensey, East Sussex.

Their decision devastated the wheelchair-bound veteran. It means he must stay in a rehabilitation centre instead.

‘I said I had been a local lad all my life and always wanted to live round my granddad’s,’ he said.

‘His idea of building me a place in his paddock was a massive incentive for me to crack on, get better and get my independence back. The rejection was a kick in the teeth.’

Mr Townsend was 19 when his legs were amputated after he stepped on an anti-tank mine buried on his patrol’s route in Helmand in February.

He has had many operations, with more surgery due next month, and has received round-the-clock care at Headley Court Armed Forces rehabilitation centre, in Surrey.

 Rejected: Mr Carter stands by the plot of land where he wanted to build the bungalow

Most people had seemed happy to help him get on with his life. The plans for his bungalow, which would have had a treatment room, a bedroom for a carer and an en- suite bathroom, were drawn up for free by an architect who wanted to thank Joe for his sacrifice.

Meanwhile, Mr Carter, 72, said his neighbours had supported the scheme. Critics condemned the council for not doing the same. Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a former soldier, said: ‘Marine Townsend has paid an extraordinary price for his service to this country. I believe he is an extraordinary case and should be viewed as such.’

The Royal British Legion said: ‘This man’s injuries were incurred defending this country abroad.

‘I hope this council will reconsider what their decision means, not only to this individual but symbolically to all our Armed Forces.’

Councillor Niki Oakes, who considered the application and by coincidence is also a double amputee, had called on the committee to help Joe.

‘I said “Damn the rules!” There has to be a way to get round them sometimes in a case like this,’ she said.

But Wealden District Council stood firm: ‘The proposed dwelling by reason of its siting and detailed design would appear as an intrusive development within this semi-rural area. The circumstances in this case are not considered sufficient to warrant an exception to the usual restraint policies.’
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« Reply #64 on: February 04, 2009, 04:37:43 PM »

Jesus...that's just...wow....  angry
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« Reply #65 on: March 16, 2009, 09:14:20 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/03/16/american-legion-commander-angered-after-meeting-obama/comment-page-1/#comments

American Legion commander “angered” after meeting Obama
posted at 7:00 pm on March 16, 2009 by Ed Morrissey   


Apparently, the Obama administration hasn’t backed away from its plans to start offloading costs for wounded veterans to third-party insurance, which will make acquiring such insurance nearly impossible.  The commander of the American Legion emerged from a meeting with President Obama “angered” at Obama’s insistence on generating revenue from those who sacrificed for American security:

The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization says he is “deeply disappointed and concerned” after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.

“It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan,” said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. “He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it.”

The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, “This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ‘ to care for him who shall have borne the battle’ given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm’s way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America’s veterans!”

Commander Rehbein was among a group of senior officials from veterans service organizations joining the President, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Steven Kosiak, the overseer of defense spending at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The group’s early afternoon conversation at The White House was precipitated by a letter of protest presented to the President earlier this month. The letter, co-signed by Commander Rehbein and the heads of ten colleague organizations, read, in part, ” There is simply no logical explanation for billing a veteran’s personal insurance for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide. While we understand the fiscal difficulties this country faces right now, placing the burden of those fiscal problems on the men and women who have already sacrificed a great deal for this country is unconscionable.”

The Obama administration explains that it wants private insurers who sell coverage to vets to pay their fair share, but there are two things wrong with that argument.  First, the United States has a moral obligation to provide treatment for those wounded in the service of their country. That’s a commitment we make to the people who enlist in military, and should not get outsourced.

Second, vets with service-related injuries and illnesses can only get third-party insurance because insurers know the US will cover all service-related medical treatment through the VA.  If the government reneges on that commitment, it will put insurers on the hook for veterans already enrolled — but it will make it a lot harder for the next set of veterans to get insured.  It will also raise costs to the rest of the insured by those companies, when the burden should fall on all Americans equally.

If the country needs more revenue streams, it should find some other way to find them than the backs of our wounded veterans.  They’ve sacrificed enough.  Shame on the Obama administration for attempting to weasel out of our commitment.

Update: This Ain’t Hell wonders when General Eric Shinseki will resign in protest.
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« Reply #66 on: March 17, 2009, 08:40:53 AM »

second post on the subject

The American Legion Strongly Opposed to President's Plan to Charge Wounded Heroes for Treatment

This lame idea has me so angry I can hardly see straight. If nothing else this more than anything reveals the contempt this administration has for the men and women in uniform and their families. Mac

Contact: Craig Roberts of The American Legion, +1-202-263-2982 Office, +1-202-406-0887 Cell


WASHINGTON, March 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The leader of the nation's largest veterans organization says he is "deeply disappointed and concerned" after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.



"It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan," said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. "He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it." The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, "This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ' to care for him who shall have borne the battle' given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America's veterans!"



Commander Rehbein was among a group of senior officials from veterans service organizations joining the President, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Steven Kosiak, the overseer of defense spending at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The group's early afternoon conversation at The White House was precipitated by a letter of protest presented to the President earlier this month. The letter, co-signed by Commander Rehbein and the heads of ten colleague organizations, read, in part, " There is simply no logical explanation for billing a veteran's personal insurance for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide. While we understand the fiscal difficulties this country faces right now, placing the burden of those fiscal problems on the men and women who have already sacrificed a great deal for this country is unconscionable."


Commander Rehbein reiterated points made last week in testimony to both House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees. It was stated then that The American Legion believes that the reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate that VA treat service-connected injuries and disabilities given that the United States government sends members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. The proposed requirement for these companies to reimburse the VA would not only be unfair, says the Legion, but would have an adverse impact on service-connected disabled veterans and their families. The Legion argues that, depending on the severity of the medical conditions involved, maximum insurance coverage limits could be reached through treatment of the veteran's condition alone. That would leave the rest of the family without health care benefits. The Legion also points out that many health insurance companies require deductibles to be paid before any benefits are covered. Additionally, the Legion is concerned that private insurance premiums would be elevated to cover service-connected disabled veterans and their families, especially if the veterans are self-employed or employed in small businesses unable to negotiate more favorable across-the-board insurance policy pricing. The American Legion also believes that some employers, especially small businesses, would be reluctant to hire veterans with service-connected disabilities due to the negative impact their employment might have on obtaining and financing company health care benefits.



"I got the distinct impression that the only hope of this plan not being enacted," said Commander Rehbein, "is for an alternative plan to be developed that would generate the desired $540-million in revenue. The American Legion has long advocated for Medicare reimbursement to VA for the treatment of veterans. This, we believe, would more easily meet the President's financial goal. We will present that idea in an anticipated conference call with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel in the near future.


"I only hope the administration will really listen to us then. This matter has far more serious ramifications than the President is imagining," concluded the Commander.


SOURCE The American Legion
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« Reply #67 on: March 17, 2009, 08:43:58 PM »

GM's post repasted here:

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/03/17/flashback-video-obama-on-sacred-trust/comment-page-1/#comments

Bush, for his flaws was a good man. Obama is a piece of lying garbage.
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« Reply #68 on: March 19, 2009, 01:15:02 AM »

By YOCHI J. DREAZEN
WASHINGTON -- The Army plans to phase out its deeply unpopular stop-loss program, which forces soldiers to remain in the military after their enlistments end.

The first Army units will deploy overseas without stop-loss soldiers in August. Barring a national-security emergency, the Army hopes to effectively eliminate the practice in 2011.

Pentagon officials said the move was meant to reduce the strains on soldiers and their families, and to help lower the alarmingly high rates of military suicide and divorce.

The move could also help defuse the anger in military circles over the Obama administration's aborted plan to make veterans' private health insurers reimburse the government for the cost of treating combat-related injuries. Amid a political furor, the White House dropped the proposal Wednesday.

 
Robert Gates
About 13,000 soldiers are being kept in the Army against their will because of the stop-loss program. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he hopes to cut that number in half by June 2010 and bring it down to the "scores, not thousands," by March 2011.

"I felt, particularly in these numbers, that it was breaking faith," Mr. Gates told reporters. "When somebody's end date of service comes, to hold them against their will...is just not the right thing to do."

Wednesday's announcement caps a multiyear controversy over the stop-loss program, created by Congress as part of the Army's transition to an all-volunteer force after the Vietnam War.

The policy affects soldiers whose units are set to deploy within three months of the end of their service commitment to the Army. Commanders say the policy helps maintain unit cohesion at a time of war and ensures that the Army doesn't face shortages of soldiers with specific skills.

The widespread use of the policy during the Iraq War became a heated political issue. In 2004, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry likened it to a "backdoor draft."

In the 2008 movie "Stop-Loss," an Iraq veteran makes plans to flee to Mexico or Canada after he receives notice that he is being kept in the military and sent back to Iraq.

Under the Army's plan, the Army Reserve will begin mobilizing units without stop-loss soldiers in August, and the National Guard will do the same in September. The active-duty Army will follow suit in January 2010.

Mr. Gates said the Army would also give all soldiers who are affected by stop-loss a $500-a-month bonus, with the payments made retroactive to soldiers serving involuntarily as of Oct. 1, 2008.

Write to Yochi J. Dreazen at yochi.dreazen@wsj.com
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« Reply #69 on: March 19, 2009, 12:20:53 PM »

Obama backs down on vets insurance billing

Marine Corps Times
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Mar 18, 2009 19:35:13 EDT
The Obama administration waved a white flag of surrender Wednesday, dropping a budget proposal that would have billed private insurance companies for treatment of service-connected medical problems at Veterans Affairs Department hospitals and clinics.

“It was total capitulation,” one participant said at a meeting Wednesday with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in which 11 veterans groups vowed they would fight to the end to kill the proposal.

AmVets Executive Director Jim King said he was glad the White House promised to kill the idea, which was distracting from the good news of the Obama administration’s proposed $4.9 billion increase in the VA budget, and which would have hurt disabled veterans, their families and maybe even employees at the same companies.

Billing private insurance to pay for veterans’ health care would make disabled veterans less desirable employees for companies worried about holding down health care costs, and could have led to veterans and their families paying higher premiums — even raising premiums for everyone working for the same company, King said.

Veterans groups met Monday with President Barack Obama to discuss the controversial proposal, but Obama promised only to look at the issue.
On Wednesday, Emanuel “said he was wrong” in his earlier support of the proposal, King said. “The 11 groups spoke with one voice, and he accepted that.”

The announcement of the reversal came from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., not from the White House.

“I feel something good happened for veterans,” King said, adding that the White House deserved criticism for proposing the idea in the first place but also credit for quickly dropping it.

Disabled American Veterans also commended the reversal. “The president was very open and candid when he met with veterans groups earlier this week, and we are pleased that he has heard our concerns and taken them to heart,” said David Gorman, executive director of DAV’s Washington office.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed the White House had changed its position.

“In considering the third party billing issue, the administration was seeking to maximize the resources available for veterans,” Gibbs said in a statement. However, the president “listened to concerns raised by the VSOs that this might, under certain circumstances, affect veterans and their families’ ability to access health care” and agreed with them. “The president has instructed that its consideration be dropped.”

In an effort that could be viewed as making up for some of the political damage caused by the controversy, Gibbs said that President Barack Obama “wants to continue a constructive partnership” with military and veterans groups and is “grateful” to the groups that worked with him on the proposal, even in opposition.

The White House is not talking about reversing current policy, which does bill the private insurers of some veterans for treatment not directly related to a service-connected injury, illness or disease. If anything, billing for nonservice-connected care could become even more aggressive in an effort to generate money for health care, which is what Emanuel told veterans groups was the whole reason for even considering expanding insurance billing.

The White House idea was not getting support in Congress. On Wednesday morning, before the change was announced, Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman, issued a statement saying he would not even consider such legislation.

“The Obama administration’s proposal to charge third-party insurance companies for service-connected medical treatment will not be taken up by the Veterans Affairs Committee,” Filner said. “Our budget cannot be balanced on the backs, or legs, or kidneys or hearts of our nation’s combat-wounded heroes,” he said.

The proposal gave Republicans an opening to question whether the Obama administration really wants to help veterans. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, a decorated Air Force veteran and former prisoner of war in Vietnam, called the insurance billing idea “sad and shameful.”

“As a combat-wounded fighter pilot who served in two wars, I find the White House idea of charging wounded war heroes for care absurd, abhorrent and unconscionable,” he said in a speech on the House floor.

-----------------------
A forum comment: ""Seems to me it's kind of hard for him to push socialized medicine on all of us and at the same time admit that socialized medicine isn't up to the task of taking care of our troops."

ZANG!
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« Reply #70 on: March 24, 2009, 03:47:49 PM »

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2009/03/18/

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2009/03/19/

http://www.daybydaycartoon.com/2009/03/23/
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« Reply #71 on: March 29, 2009, 07:26:02 AM »



http://www.anotsocapitolidea.com/2009/02/youll-never-walk-alone-by-tiger-woods.html
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« Reply #72 on: April 11, 2009, 09:28:38 AM »

By MERRILEE CARLSON
April 9 marked the sixth anniversary of Iraqi Liberation Day. Most of us vividly remember the stirring image of Iraqi citizens tearing down the statue of the man who dominated their lives. While toppling the statue of Saddam Hussein six years ago liberated Iraqis from their fear of his oppressive regime, they still were not free. Eliminating this dictator opened a void which was quickly filled with a mixture of coalition soldiers, insurgents and Iraqi citizens who desired to govern themselves.

In February 2004, my son, Spc. Michael Carlson, arrived in the Diyala province of Iraq. During the next 11 months he and his team searched houses, hunted insurgents, and made a difference in the lives of the Iraqi people. I think about him today because I miss him very much.

He gave his life in an overturned Bradley fighting vehicle in a water-filled canal, one week before the first Iraqi elections in January 2005.

I think about what his service to our country meant to him: defending and protecting us. But it goes further than that because Michael had a vision of his life that few young people have, and amazingly he put that vision on paper while in high school. In May 2000, Michael wrote that he "sometimes dreams of being a soldier in a war." In this war he is " helping liberate people from oppression." He wrote the only way that one could live forever "is to live on in those you have affected." These are prophetic words.

The Iraq we see today was hard won and costly. The Iraqi government has come a long way from the oppression of Hussein's regime. Their military is now being redeveloped, and local communities have come together to work for security. Though there have been pitfalls, this has been a fast transformation with great successes.

In America, we often think that this transformation happened solely by the work of our American heroes. But the Iraqi people have worked very hard to transform their country and to take back control.

I remember meeting Brig. Gen. Ismael Alsodani, the Iraqi defense attaché, when he visited Arlington National Cemetery and Michael's grave last year. He leaned next to my older son, Dan, and said, "I've lost my brother too."

Those five words changed Dan's life. He had been living in a chasm of grief for Mike, and suddenly his perspective opened up. He was able to look beyond his personal grief and recognize all who have fought for freedom in our country, in Iraq, and around the world.

Our military is the most effective military in the world. We give thanks to each and every man and woman who has served and helped to change the world in which we live. They have given hope for the new Iraq and for the future of its people.

Mrs. Carlson is the president of Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission.

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« Reply #73 on: April 12, 2009, 04:11:25 PM »

By JAMES TARANTO
"What if it was 'Oh, the gay one,' or 'Oh, the Asian kid?' " asks Maggie Kwok, head of the Penn State Veterans Organization in an interview with the Daily Collegian, PSU's student newspaper. She is referring to a "training video," prepared by the university's Counseling and Psychological Services office, depicting "worrisome student behavior."

The office swiftly removed the video when it prompted a kerfuffle, but the PSU College Republicans preserved it on YouTube. It's a fascinating documentation of academic prejudice.

Just shy of five minutes, the video depicts a vignette in two scenes. As it opens, a timorous young female instructor is talking with an older man, perhaps the department chairman. We join the conversation as it is about to wrap up, before she brings up a new and worrisome subject:

Instructor: . . . So, I think that we should talk to everybody about that.
Chairman: Good, let's bring it up at the staff meeting, OK?
Instructor: Actually, I kinda wanted to talk to you about something else? Um, I'm still having problems with that student I mentioned?
Chairman: The Veteran.
Instructor: Yeah. He's having problems with his papers still. His grammar is really poor, and he veers off subject, and he's just not really seeming to understand the assignments.
Sound familiar? "You know, education--if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

The video's salient stereotype, however, is not of veterans as thickheaded but as angry. The instructor reluctantly tells the chairman that the student's "tone is very confrontational, and I feel like he's always on the verge of losing his temper." The chairman asks if he has threatened her or if she is "worried about what he might do." She says no, but "he makes me really uneasy." He gives her some obvious advice, beginning: "If he ever threatens you, you call the police right away."

After this inconclusive chat, the story shifts to the classroom, where The Veteran confronts the instructor, demanding to know why he only got a C-plus on his paper even after rewriting it to her specifications. She says that while there was some improvement after the rewrite, she graded the paper on the merits. He thinks she has it in for him and says, "I don't see why you're doing this":

Instructor: I'm not doing anything, Matthew. This isn't a personal thing against you.
The Veteran: I think it is! You've made it very clear in class how you feel about the war, and you're taking it out on me!
Instructor: My personal beliefs have nothing to do with the way that I treat you. I think that you need to relax and we need to discuss this. Or I could give you the name of someone to talk to if you feel like you want to get some help.
The Veteran: Help? Do you think I'm an idiot? You're the one who's being unreasonable! I just want the grade that I deserve. [Pauses.] You know what? You'll see, you'll be sorry. I'm gonna get you fired.
With this, The Veteran exits stage left. Fade to black as the instructor's jaw goes slack in an expression midway between terror and pensiveness.

"Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said the university responded to the veterans' concerns as quickly as possible by removing the video," the Collegian reports:

"We heard them, we responded and there was certainly no intent to suggest that any particular student group was inclined toward worrisome behavior," Powers said. . . .
"Obviously someone has taken our video and has posted it elsewhere," Powers said. "Since it has been posted on the Internet, we have received some e-mails from veterans and friends of veterans who have seen the video out of context."
We watched the other three videos in the series, and we must say we don't see how the "context" ameliorates the veterans' objections to the depiction of The Veteran.

All the videos in the series concern students behaving in ways that are creepy but not necessarily dangerous. In the first, a young woman tells her professor that a young man in her class has an unreciprocated romantic interest in her and has been making her feel uncomfortable. "It's not like he's stalking me or anything," she allows, but then she describes behavior that some may reckon crossed that line.

The second depicts a female student who is behaving erratically for reasons that are unspecified--perhaps trauma, mental illness or drug abuse.

Podcast
James Taranto on the Penn State video kerfuffle.
The third shows a classroom discussion on news coverage of violent crime. When the conversation turns toward school shootings, a black-shirted male student in the back row remarks that such violence "doesn't make sense to me. Why shoot at the other students? Personally, I'd blow up Old Main or shoot up the administration. That's where the real problems are."

The video about The Veteran is similar to the others, in that all depict abnormal behavior by young people who probably are normal, but are immature or temporarily impaired. But the characters in the other videos are all completely generic, with no distinguishing characteristics other than their sex. Only The Veteran is fleshed out enough even to be a stereotype.

The obvious objection to the depiction of The Veteran is that there is no reason to think that veterans are more prone than anyone else to lash out angrily, blaming others for their own failings. If anything, one would think that the rigors of military training and deployment would leave them more mature, at least in this regard.

But The Veteran's status as a veteran is relevant to the video's story, inasmuch as he believes the instructor is treating him unfairly because he is a veteran. This lends another dimension to Maggie Kwok's speculation about the reaction if the character were depicted as a member of an ethnic or sexual minority.

What if the student in the video were black and accused the instructor of racial discrimination? Would this be depicted, as it is in this video, as if the charge was absurd on its face? Would the student's threat to have the (presumably untenured) instructor "fired" come across as an empty one, the way it does in the actual video? And if the department chairman in the opening exchange identified the student by asking, "Oh, the black guy?," would that not be seen--with some justification--as bolstering the charge of discrimination?

In the video, The Veteran behaves inappropriately--but he also accuses the instructor of inappropriately bringing her politics into the classroom at his expense. We are meant to think the accusation is preposterous. But at a university that produces such a video, is it hard to believe that such things actually go on?
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« Reply #74 on: April 18, 2009, 06:45:44 AM »

WASHINGTON — The Army has promised to lighten the soldier’s load, and nowhere more urgently than in eastern Afghanistan, where the unforgiving terrain tests the stamina of troops whose weapons, body armor, rucksacks and survival gear can weigh 130 pounds.

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Finding the Right Coverage But an experiment to shave up to 20 pounds off a soldier’s burden — much of it by reducing the bulletproof plates that protect the chest and back — has stalled, leaving $3 million in new, lightweight equipment sitting in a warehouse in the United States instead of being sent to the war zone where it was to have been tried out by a battalion-size group of 500 soldiers. The delay offers a new window into how Army rules have slowed the deployment of specialized gear that small units are seeking for harsh combat environments.

The new lightweight bulletproof plates, part of what is known as a Modular Body Armor Vest, are already in use by the military’s Special Operations Command, which includes the Army’s elite light-infantry troops, the Rangers.

A team of Army experts went to eastern Afghanistan in early March expecting to begin trial runs of the gear for regular Army soldiers, including a company assigned to the remote Korangal Valley, a harsh and primitive area of eastern Afghanistan where the insurgency has proved especially resilient, and where soldiers regularly set off on multiple-day patrols that require them to hike up and down steep hills and valleys.

But the assessment team was ordered back to the United States late last month when its experiment was put off. The delays in the assessment were reported first by Army Times.

According to Army officials familiar with the effort, senior Army leaders ordered further reviews of the lighter bulletproof plates to guarantee that soldiers would not be put at risk wearing them during the combat field tests; the leaders also wanted to expand the goals for the assessment. The officials who discussed the stalled study did so on ground rules of anonymity because of the senior-level review of the matter still under way.

The lighter set of plates and vest could reduce the load of conventional troops by about 20 pounds compared with the current Army-issue Improved Outer Tactical Vest.

The Special Operations Command prides itself on rapidly equipping its units with the latest in weaponry, body armor and war-fighting technology, and many of its innovations subsequently have been adopted by conventional forces. But some of its highly specialized gear carries with it a greater risk for the user, one that Special Operations commanders say is mitigated by the elite level of training given their forces.

All involved in the debate agree that the lighter plates and vest do not cover as much of the torso as the current Army body armor. But advocates of the lighter protection say that giving a soldier greater mobility contributes to survivability, and that the greatest threat to troops in eastern Afghanistan is from bullets, while the heavier vests were designed also to guard against shrapnel from roadside bombs.

Army officials say that the assessment, headed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in conjunction with the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group, will resume in about a month, and that the focus will be on the impact of the total soldier’s load and not on analyzing particular pieces of equipment, like the body armor alone.

“To preserve the validity of this assessment and evaluation on soldier performance, the Army decided to equip the unit with all types of lighter equipment simultaneously rather than in a piecemeal fashion,” an Army spokesman said.

The assessment is expected to resume “in the next month, pending a final decision from senior Army leadership,” the spokesman said.

Advocates of a more cautious assessment schedule cite the importance of getting the study right, saying it will guide decisions on equipping the entire force both to meet the challenges of combat in Afghanistan — where thousands of additional troops are being sent this year — and to lessen the physical strain that can lead to long-term injury.

But other officials counter that time has been wasted, and that the lighter gear is only one option to commanders whose troops are going out on patrol, because heavier body armor would remain at each base for use when more coverage of the upper body was needed.

Critics say the delays in testing the lighter body armor are another sign of Army inflexibility, even after years of efforts by the service to speed up its procurement process. The Army was also late to recognize the dangers posed by a reliance on soft-skinned Humvees for troops in Iraq, and then was slow in buying and building better-armored troop transports.

The Army has been driven to examine how to lighten the soldier’s load after years of adding heavier armor, night-vision goggles, rifle scopes, knives, water and food. A soldier on patrol carries, on average, 60 pounds of equipment, but in places like Afghanistan, where the terrain requires prolonged missions away from an operating base, the load can be doubled by the need for shelter, extra food, ammunition and other gear.
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« Reply #75 on: May 16, 2009, 09:35:10 AM »

Today is Armed Forces Day.

Thank you for all you do.

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« Reply #76 on: June 04, 2009, 04:02:33 PM »

President Reagan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEIqdcHbc8I

God bless America.
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« Reply #77 on: June 05, 2009, 09:27:21 PM »

Through Sunday night only, President Reagan at Normandy for the 40th Anniversary of D-Day.

http://www.dogbrothers.com/
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« Reply #78 on: June 11, 2009, 06:21:15 AM »

Here's a scene from the movie OVERRIDE i made in support of our troops and intel people like
my dad and brother...(covered in this month's Blackbelt magazine -the one with Dan on cover).
I had a tiny budget so of course i would love to have Seal Team smashing into
a building from helicopter drop but this is what i could do....Next time right!

After movie premieres JULY 9 in BELLMORE NY... want to hold events to raise money for
Wounded Warrior Project.

CLIP:     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzynBfmrlkc
SITE:     WWW.OVERRIDETHEMOVIE.COM


cheers
Randall K
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« Reply #79 on: June 22, 2009, 03:52:52 PM »

A Good Teacher

A lesson that should be taught in all schools . . And colleges
 
Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies school teacher at Robinson High School inLittle Rock, did something not to be forgotten.
 
On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks out of her classroom.   When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks.
 
'Ms. Cothren, where're our desks?'
 
She replied, 'You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.'
 
They thought, 'Well, maybe it's our grades..'
 
'No,' she said..
 
'Maybe it's our behavior.'
 
She told them, 'No, it's not even your behavior.'
 
And so, they came and went, the first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom.   By early afternoon television news crews had started gathering in Ms.Cothren's classroom to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room.
 
The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the deskless classroom, Martha Cothren said, 'Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he/she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you.'
 
At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it.
 
Twenty-seven (27) U.S. Veterans, all in uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over and stand alongside the wall. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.
 
Martha said, 'You didn't earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. Now, it's up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don't ever forget it.'
 
By the way, this is a true story.


Please consider passing this along so others won't forget that the freedoms we have in this great country were earned by U. S. Veterans.
 

http://www.snopes.com/glurge/nodesks.asp

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« Reply #80 on: July 25, 2009, 09:29:41 AM »

http://www.michaelyon-online.com/michael-s-dispatches/

Michael's Dispatches
SatComms for Soldiers
  25 July 2009
Sangin, Afghanistan

Have been out with British forces in the area of Sangin in northern Helmand Province.  This area appears to be turning into the main effort of the current fight in Afghanistan, but this is unclear to me at the moment.  I do know that air assets are heavy.  During our mission yesterday, a B-1 could be seen overhead, though it was miles high.  On the ground, this place is loaded with IEDs and there were many firefights during yesterday’s mission.   My section of eight soldiers did not fire a single round; we did not come into direct contact, though bullets sometimes zipped overhead.  Nearly all missions are conducted on foot and the soldiers like it that way.  I am with the British battalion called 2 Rifles.  The last mission I did with 2 Rifles was in Iraq, and they killed maybe 26-27 JAM members during that fight.  Yesterday they only killed two Taliban (Predator actually made the shot), but the mission was well run, and morale here is very high.  Everybody is ready to roll again and missions are near continuous.  I’ll ask British commanders to let me stay, though that might not be necessary because there are so few helicopters.  More likely I am stuck here.  FOB Jackson is probably going to be my Hotel California, but that’s all good because these are great soldiers, in the thick of it, and I want to stay.

More broadly speaking, our forces are spread to the high winds across desolate stretches of Afghanistan, sometimes in tiny “bases” with as few as a half-dozen soldiers.  Last December, I spent some time with a group of such soldiers in Zabul Province, but hardly wrote a word about them, yet. They were deep in wild country and it took two days for us to drive out to a paved road.  Those soldiers had no access to Internet, and said that on one occasion they didn’t even get mail for three months.

Until December, I used a satellite antenna called a “Regional BGAN” (R-BGAN) HNS-9101 to transmit dispatches from remote areas.  These small, portable systems are expensive; during a fifteen-day period last year, I spent almost exactly $5,000.  (Prices based on bandwidth usage.)

During late 2008, when I saw the group of a half-dozen American soldiers, out there in the boondocks, two days from a road and once going three months without mail, I told Mrs. Frankie Mayo, who runs Operation AC.  Frankie and Operation AC had sent loads of gear to Iraq, including air conditioners and generators.  When I told Frankie about the isolated soldiers, she got to work with Hughes to send R-BGANs to Afghanistan.

Lucky for me, with the old R-BGAN no longer usable, Hughes, through Frankie, shipped a newer model, the Hughes 9201 BGAN Inmarsat Terminal.  Many of this year’s dispatches will come through the 9201.

Without such a terminal, large numbers of Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors will be without regular communications for much or most of their time in Afghanistan.  The infrastructure is Spartan to non-existent.  Life here is tougher than it was in Iraq, and the fighting will be tougher still.  Yes, there are the gigantic bases—as in Iraq—where everything is available, but little of the war is being fought from the larger bases.

Extended battlefield journalism from Afghanistan is relatively non-existent.  Broadly speaking, folks at home will not know how their loved ones are doing unless they can communicate directly.  To learn more about the effort to send satellite communications gear to troops downrange, please see Operation AC.

http://www.operationac.com/index.html

 
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« Reply #81 on: July 31, 2009, 02:49:25 PM »

I'm a big fan of Robert Heinlein and have read just about everything he ever wrote, including Starship Troopers, which, IMO tripped over itself trying to be both Sci Fi novel about mechanically enhanced soldiers and an examination of political ethics and who deserves enfranchisement. Be that as it may, I think ST made a strong argument that those who put up the most to support a system of government should have a strong stake in the way things are run. This piece instead documents how our troops regularly have their political voices stifled. One would think that those who have made some much hay out of other disenfranchisement claims would take note.

July 28, 2009

America's Military Voters: Re-enfranchising the Disenfranchised

by Hans A. von Spakovsky and M. Eric Eversole

Legal Memorandum #45

For many Americans, the 2008 presidential election was historic, both in its outcome and the number of citizens who voted, many for the first time. The overall turnout of the votingeligible population was 61.7 percent, the highest turnout since the 1964 presidential election.[1] Local election officials in many states reported high levels of voting by many individuals who have not traditionally participated in the election process. The same, however, cannot be said for America's military members and their votingage dependents ("military voters"). For these voters, especially those serving in dangerous combat zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, the 2008 presidential election was an embarrassing reminder of the difficulties faced by America's men and women in uniform when they attempt to vote.

Military voters have long been disenfranchised--both at the state and federal level--by a voting process that fails to recognize the unique challenges created by a military voter's transitory existence or the delays associated with delivering an absentee ballot to a war zone halfway around the world. Given these soldiers' daily sacrifices and their willingness to defend this nation's freedom, it is incumbent on Americans to remedy this problem and provide U.S. soldiers with the same rights they are being asked to protect. Unless Congress (and the states) finally act to remedy this problem, military personnel will continue to be the largest group of disenfranchised voters in the United States.

Current Law

All military personnel and their dependents, as well as overseas citizens, are guaranteed the right to vote by absentee ballot in federal elections by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).[2] President Ronald Reagan designated the Department of Defense (DOD) to administer the statute, and the department organized the Federal Voting Assistance Program office (FVAP) to provide support to UOCAVA voters.[3] Enforcement of the UOCAVA is the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Justice.

In short, the UOCAVA requires all states to "permit absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters to use absentee registration procedures and to vote by absentee ballot in general, special, primary, and runoff elections for Federal office."[4] The UOCAVA does not specify the exact number of days prior to the election that absentee ballots must be mailed to overseas voters. However, since 1988 the Department of Justice has filed 35 civil lawsuits against states and local governments arguing that the statute's guarantee of the right to vote by absentee ballots requires states to mail out such ballots in time to be received and returned by overseas voters.[5] In 1986, Congress found that "{b}ased on surveys of the U.S. Postal Service and of military postal authorities, ballots should be mailed to overseas addresses at least 45 days prior to an election in order to ensure adequate time for a ballot to reach a voter and be returned."[6] The U.S. Election Assistance Commission recommended the same 45day transit time in 2004 when it released a report on the best practices for facilitating voting by overseas citizens covered by the UOCAVA.[7]

Disenfranchised Heroes

Despite many states reporting record turnout in 2008, data from the election demonstrates a shockingly low level of participation among military voters.[8] Take, for example, the treatment of military voters in Minnesota. In a state that prides itself on the nation's highest voter participation rate--78.2 percent of the eligible population participated in the 2008 presidential election--only 15.8 percent of Minnesota's 23,346 military members and their votingage dependents were able to cast an absentee ballot in the same election.[9] To make matters worse, even if the military voter in Minnesota cast his or her absentee ballot, that ballot was nearly sixteen times more likely to be rejected by local election officials, as compared to other absentee voters statewide.[10] A vast majority of the rejected military ballots--nearly 70 percent--were rejected because the ballot was returned after the election deadline. Ultimately, only 14.4 percent of Minnesota's eligible military voters were able to cast a vote that counted in the 2008 presidential election.

Military personnel move frequently and receive scant assistance from both the military and state voting officials. Consequently, the absentee ballot request rate is extremely low. In the three states with the largest number of military voters--Florida, Texas, and California (accounting for nearly 40 percent of all military voters)--data from each state shows that less than a quarter of military voters and their dependents requested an absentee ballot for the 2008 presidential election. Florida had the highest number of requests with 27.8 percent of nearly 324,000 military voters requesting an absentee ballot. Texas was second with 22.9 percent and California was third with 17.8 percent. All told, of the estimated 943,879 military voters in these three states, only 23.4 percent or 220,595 requested an absentee ballot to vote in the 2008 presidential election. The rate of return of those same absentee ballots was even lower. Only 11.3 percent of the eligible military voters in California actually returned their ballots compared to 20.6 percent in Florida and 13.1 percent in Texas.

These low participation rates, however, were not isolated to Florida, Texas, and California. Other states, like Alaska, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, and Pennsylvania--all of which have significant military populations--experienced similar levels of disenfranchisement. The number of military voters that requested an absentee ballot in these five states ranged from 18.5 percent in Alaska to 25.2 percent in Pennsylvania. However, the number of military voters that were able to cast and have their absentee ballots counted was much lower, ranging from 11.9 percent in Maryland to 19.1 percent in Pennsylvania. Said another way, nearly 80 to 85 percent of military voters were unable to cast an absentee ballot that counted during the 2008 presidential election and, thus, were likely disenfranchised during the election. This low participation rate is as severe as any in the nation's recent history, including that which resulted in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to strike down the barriers to registration and turnout that kept black Americans out of the polls.[11]

The state data further shows that a large number of ballots were mailed, but never returned by the absentee military voter or were returned undelivered to local election officials because they had the wrong mailing address. For example, in California, Florida, and Texas, nearly 34.8 percent of the military absentee ballots that were requested were not returned to the local election official or were returned because of an undeliverable address (i.e., the military voter no longer lived at that address). According to a recent study by the Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF), many of these overseas military ballots may have been lost or significantly delayed by the postal service. The OVF found that nearly 22 percent of respondents to a survey, which included military and overseas voters, never received their requested absentee ballot for the 2008 presidential election.[12] In addition, 10 percent received their absentee ballots less than seven days before the election and 1 percent received their ballots after November 4, 2008. In other words, the 2008 OVF Report found that nearly onethird of its respondents either did not receive their absentee ballot or received it with insufficient time to return it to election officials.

Unfortunately, the 2008 presidential election was not an anomaly. Data collected by the Defense Manpower Data Center and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission showed a similar pattern of disenfranchisement of military voters in the 2006 election. In particular, the Defense Manpower Data Center stated that only 22 percent of active duty military members (which does not include military dependents) voted in the 2006 election.[13] Of that 22 percent, approximately 16 percent attempted to vote by absentee ballot and 7 percent voted in person.[14] This data corresponds with data collected by the Election Assistance Commission, which found that only 16.5 percent of the estimated 6 million eligible military and overseas voters requested an absentee ballot and only 5.5 percent of these ballots were returned and counted.[15] As was the case in 2008, many military and overseas absentee ballots (nearly 70 percent) were not returned by the voter or were returned as undeliverable.[16] The Election Assistance Commission also found that many ballots were rejected because they were received after the deadline for receipt.[17]

Why Military Voters Are Disenfranchised

1. Inability to Participate

The 2008 election data makes it clear that a vast majority of military voters (an estimated 75 to 80 percent)[18] were disenfranchised by their inability to request an absentee ballot. This failure rests squarely on the DOD and FVAP.

Unlike most Americans, who receive voting assistance from various state agencies in their local communities, military voters frequently live in remote locations far from their voting residences. Overseas military voters cannot simply walk into their local registrar's office, driver's license bureau, or public assistance office and register to vote or update their voter registration information.[19] Nor do they receive voting assistance from thirdparty voter registration groups because military installations are closed to the public. In short, military voters do not have access to the same level of voting assistance as other Americans and that lack of assistance directly affects their ability to participate in elections.

Recognizing this fact after the 2000 election, Congress enacted the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), in part, to ensure that the FVAP provided military voters with sufficient voting assistance. As Congress made clear, the FVAP must "ensure that members of the Armed Forces and their dependents who are qualified to vote have ready access to information regarding voter registration requirements and deadlines (including voter registration), absentee ballot application requirements and deadlines, and the availability of voting assistance officers to assist members and dependents to understand and comply with these requirements."[20] The HAVA also requires the FVAP to ensure that military personnel assigned to voting assistance duty (commonly referred to as voting assistance officers (VAOs)) have the time and the resources needed to provide votingrelated services.[21]

Unfortunately, the FVAP's voting assistance program has been a failure. In a post2004 election report by the DOD Inspector General (IG),[22] the IG found that the FVAP was ineffective because only 40 to 50 percent of military members, and a lesser percentage of family members, received voting information from the FVAP or VAOs.[23] The main failure, according to the report, was the FVAP's use of VAOs as the primary means of distributing voting information.[24] The report found that the VAO program failed to provide "the consistent, focused attention" necessary to achieve the FVAP's federally mandated mission because the military assigned VAO duty as a collateral duty-- that is, the VAO responsibility was a secondary duty to an officer's primary obligations.[25] The IG concluded that "senior leadership can expect significant improvement only if a radically different approach is applied."[26]

That different approach has not been forthcoming. In the 2006 election cycle, the IG once again found that the VAO program did not provide military voters with the necessary registration or absentee ballot information needed to participate in the election.[27] As in the 2004 election, the IG found that less than 40 percent of military members and their families received voting information and assistance from the FVAP and VAOs.[28] In fact, the IG noted that only 33 percent of military voters even knew about the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), the federal form provided by the UOCAVA that allows a military voter to register, update his or her address, or request an absentee ballot.[29]

The result of this failure is clear: When the FVAP does not provide the requisite assistance to military voters, which civilians receive through numerous state agencies, these voters are significantly less likely to participate in elections. That is at least one reason why only 22 percent of military voters participated in the 2006 federal election,[30] even though 41.3 percent of the general population voted in the same election.[31] It also largely explains the low percentage of military voters who participated in the 2008 presidential election, even though 61.7 percent of the general population voted in that election.[32] Military voter participation rates will only increase, as noted by the IG's 2004 report, when the FVAP dramatically changes its voting assistance program and provides consistent and timely voterrelated services.

« Last Edit: July 31, 2009, 02:53:47 PM by Body-by-Guinness » Logged
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« Reply #82 on: July 31, 2009, 02:50:27 PM »

2. Lost and Undeliverable Ballots

The 2008 data also shows that a significant number of military ballots (approximately 33 percent of the total requested)[33] were never returned to local election officials or were returned as undeliverable. Once again, both the DOD and FVAP are primarily responsibility for this failure.

Given the transitory nature of military voters, who typically move every two to three years and often deploy for months on end, mailing addresses frequently change and quickly become obsolete. It is difficult for the military voter, as well as their state of residence, to keep up with these changes. As a result, many military ballots are sent to wrong addresses and, thus, are returned as undeliverable.

The failure, again, rests with the FVAP and, more specifically, its failure to provide consistent and timely voter assistance--as noted in the IG's 2004 election report. If military voters were provided voting assistance on a consistent and timely basis (i.e., each time they move or deploy to a new duty station), such aid would ensure that states receive timely updates regarding a military voter's change of address and, thus, reduce the number of absentee ballots sent to the wrong address.

In addition, the Military Postal Service Agency (MPSA) must do more to ensure that ballots are sent and received in a timely manner. The delivery of mail, especially to war zones, is a difficult task. In 2004, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that while ballot transit times (one way) generally met the 12 to 18day standard required by Army regulations,[34] nearly 25 percent of all mail took more than 18 days to deliver.[35] Further, GAO reported that "[n]early half [of interviewed military members] said that, after arriving in theater, they waited more than 4 weeks to get their mail, and many commented that some mail took as long as 4 months to work its way through the system."[36] The 2008 OVF study also demonstrates that mail delivery problems continue to hamper the delivery of absentee ballots to foreign locations. Ballot delivery has to be a priority for the DOD and the MPSA.

3. Not Enough Time to Vote

Every federal agency and nonprofit group examining the issue of ballot delivery times to military voters in war zones has concluded that ballots need to be sent at least 45 days before the state deadline for receiving absentee ballots. In fact, some government officials, like the chief of operations for the MPSA, recommend that absentee ballots be sent 60 days before the state deadline. These recommendations are based on two critical factors: (1) it takes at least 12 to 18 days for a ballot to make the oneway transit from an election official to a designated mailbox in a combat zone;[37] and (2) military exigencies (i.e., fighting the war) further delay the delivery of ballots to military voters. In other words, it takes at least 36 days of mail time (18 days each way) for a ballot to be sent to and from a war zone and some additional amount of time to account for military exigencies.

Unfortunately, nearly onethird of the states refuse to follow the 45day standard.[38] In fact, ten states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Vermont) give military voters 35 or less days to receive, cast, and return their ballots before the state deadline. Not only does 35 days fail to account for mail delivery times, it provides no time for the military voter to receive and cast the absentee ballot. By refusing to follow the 45day standard, these ten states led the nation in a rather dubious category: the systematic disenfranchisement of military voters.. Six additional states (Alabama, Alaska, Nevada, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) allow military voters less than 40 days to receive and return their absentee ballots.

Unfortunately, the voters in these states receive their ballots so close to the election that the voter does not have time to return it or, even if the ballot is returned, it arrives after the election. This fact was evident in the 2008 presidential election in Minnesota, where absentee ballots were sent to military voters only 30 days before the election. According to data provided by the state, approximately 8 percent of military absentee ballots that were returned to local election officials were rejected, whereas only 0.5 percent of 300,000 absentee ballots were rejected statewide.[39] The higher rejection rate is caused primarily by the number of absentee ballots (nearly 70 percent of the rejected military and overseas absentee ballots) that were delivered after the election deadline. If Minnesota had used the 45day standard (i.e., it would have given military voters an additional 10 or 15 days to receive and return their ballots), a vast majority (if not all) of the late arriving military ballots would have been counted--potentially changing the outcome of one of the closest Senate races in the state's history.

4. Rejected for Other State Law Reasons

In addition to ballots that are rejected for being late, states also reject ballots that fail to adhere to a variety of state laws. For example, ballots are frequently rejected because the absentee ballot or absentee ballot envelope are not signed or dated by the voter or do not have the voter's address. Some states also reject ballots if they are sent to the wrong jurisdiction or if they lack a postmark showing that the ballot was cast before the election. In addition, some states require a witness or notary to sign the military voter's absentee ballot or the absentee ballot envelope to verify the identity of a voter. Finally, a few states have rejected absentee ballots when the absentee ballot or absentee ballot envelope was not printed on the correct paper weight or were printed on the wrong size paper.

While some of the state law bases for rejecting military absentee ballots are dubious at best, these requirements impact relatively few absentee ballots. For example, in Florida during the 2008 presidential election, only 1 percent of the 66,668 ballots that were returned by absentee military voters were rejected. Approximately onehalf of these ballots appeared to be rejected because they arrived after the state deadline. The other half (about 330 ballots) were rejected for a variety of reasons, including (1) the ballot or ballot envelope was not signed by the voter; (2) the absentee voter's signature did not match the one on file; (3) the voter sent two ballots and, thus, one was rejected for being a duplicate; and (4) the voter no longer lived in the county or was registered to vote in a different county.

Pennsylvania also had a low rejection rate for absentee military ballots in the 2008 presidential election. According to data provided by state election officials, only 0.4 percent of 15,523 military absentee ballots were not counted in the election. Like Florida, approximately onehalf of the absentee ballots were rejected because they were returned after the state's deadline. The other half was rejected for some other state law requirement.

Florida's and Pennsylvania's experiences appear to be consistent with other states that were surveyed for this study. Excluding ballots that were returned after the election deadline, most states had a rejection rate of military ballots between 1 and 4 percent.

Failure to Act

If the disenfranchisement of military voters was a freight train, Congress heard its whistle long before the 2008 presidential election and, nevertheless, stood by as the train ran over military voters. The leadership in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate share equal responsibility for this failure.

Congress was well aware of the difficulties faced by military voters prior to the 2008 presidential election, as evidenced by the reports and studies issued on prior elections by various agencies including the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. In response to these studies, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) introduced legislation in May 2008 that would have required the DOD and FVAP to collect absentee ballots from overseas military members on the Friday before the election and deliver them stateside by express air transport.[40] Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) sponsored a nearly identical bill in the Senate.[41] Both bills would have shortened the delivery time for overseas ballots from three or four weeks to four to seven days-- meaning that thousands of ballots that were rejected in 2008 would have counted.

Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO) also introduced a congressional resolution in July 2008 to address the FVAP's failure to provide sufficient assistance to military voters.[42] The resolution required the FVAP to provide military voters with monthly notices regarding their opportunities to request an absentee ballot. The resolution also would have provided Congress with critical preelection reports regarding the FVAP's efforts to ensure that military voters were provided with election assistance.

Unfortunately, the leadership in the House and the Senate either ignored the legislation or refused to act until it was too late for the bills to be effective. For example, even though Representative Blunt introduced his resolution in July 2008, House leadership did not allow a vote on the resolution until September 17, 2008--that is, 48 days before the November 4, 2008, election. The twomonth delay prevented the resolution from providing any real benefit to military voters.

Likewise, Representative McCarthy's bill never made it out of the House Administration Committee chaired by Representative Robert Brady (D-PA). Senator Cornyn's bill fared a little better and was voted out of the Senate on October 1, 2008. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) did not bring the legislation to the floor for a vote and the bill ultimately expired at the end of the 110th Congress.

Practical Solutions

Military voters should not suffer another election where only 15 to 20 percent of them are able to vote. Significant improvement, however, does not require significant change. Four minor modifications to existing federal law would directly address the lack of assistance and timing issue and, more importantly, would substantially improve participation rates among military voters.

1. Designate Military Offices as Voter Registration Agencies. To the extent that Congress wants to ensure that military voters receive adequate assistance, it must legislate a different approach-- an approach that the FVAP has been unwilling to implement. Like state driver's license and public assistance offices designated as voter registration agencies under section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act, certain military offices should be designated as voter registration agencies through an amendment to the NVRA. The DOD could provide votingrelated assistance and registration at locations where military members already receive administrative support or social services (e.g., pay offices, military ID offices, etc.). Not only would such an approach greatly improve the consistency of the FVAP, it would ensure that military voters receive information when they need it most--when they have a permanent change of duty station or when they deploy.

For example, in the Navy, sailors are required to visit their personnel support detachment when they check in to a new base. Soldiers in the Army have a similar obligation. As part of that visit, sailors and soldiers are required to complete various federal forms to update their contact information, the address of their dependents, and their Servicemen's Group Life Insurance. Having the military member complete one additional form, the federal post card application, will not materially burden the process. It would, however, ensure that military personnel have an opportunity to complete a new federal post card application when their addresses have changed. Completion of this form and its forwarding to the relevant state election official by the designated DOD office would greatly increase participation rates, as well as the accuracy of information maintained by state election officials on military voters.

Senator Cornyn has introduced a bill that would implement just such a procedure by amending the NVRA and require DOD to "designate an office on each installation of the Armed Forces" as a voter registration agency.[43] Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) likewise has incorporated this concept in a bill that he recently introduced.[44]

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« Reply #83 on: July 31, 2009, 02:51:01 PM »

2. Make the 45Day Standard Mandatory under the UOCAVA. Currently, the federal law that requires states to mail absentee ballots to military voters, the UOCAVA, does not specify when states are required to mail absentee ballots to military and overseas citizens. As noted previously, this oversight has allowed numerous states to avoid sending ballots at least 45 days before an election. This failure can be easily rectified with a minor modification to 42 U.S.C. § 1973ff1:

Each State shall--(1) permit absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters to use absentee registration procedures and to vote by absentee ballot in general, special, primary, and runoff elections for Federal office, and

(2) ensure that absentee ballots are sent at least 45 days before the state deadline for receiving absentee ballots unless such ballots are sent by express mail or other electronic means that will ensure that the ballots are received with sufficient time to be returned to state election officials.

Such a change would greatly reduce the number of ballots that are rejected because they were received after the state's deadline for receiving absentee ballots. This statutory change would complement a bill already introduced by Senator Schumer that would amend the UOCAVA to require states to send military and overseas ballots at least 45 days before the election.[45]

3. Require the Military to Provide Expedited Return Delivery. Senator Cornyn and Representative McCarthy have reintroduced their legislation to require the FVAP to use expedited delivery methods to return ballots from overseas military members in the 111th Congress.[46] Even if Congress mandates a 45day standard, as discussed above, this legislation serves an important function: providing an expedited delivery and return mechanism for overseas military absentee ballots.

Notwithstanding the best efforts of states to send ballots at least 45 days before the state deadline, there are numerous factors that delay the delivery of mail to and from war zones. In fact, as noted in the 2004 GAO report, a sizeable percentage of mail (25 percent) took longer than 18 days to deliver and some mail took as much as 4 months to arrive overseas. Senator Cornyn's and Representative McCarthy's legislation helps to resolve the uncertainty regarding mail delivery times and provides a guarantee that an overseas military voter's ballot will be delivered to state election officials by the election deadline.

One serious shortcoming in the bills introduced by Cornyn, McCarthy, and Schumer is that they limit the DOD to using the United States Postal Service for express mail service, despite the fact that there are a number of other private companies that provide such service. The DOD should be allowed to accept competitive bids from all companies that provide international express mail service, including the USPS, so that this service is provided at the lowest cost possible for the American taxpayer.[47]

4. Eliminate NonMaterial State Law Reasons for Rejecting a Ballot. There are certain state requirements for the absentee ballot process that could be eliminated. For example, absentee ballot requests and absentee ballots, including the official UOCAVA post card ballots, should not be rejected by state election authorities because of state restrictions on the paper type, weight, or size of such election materials. Senator Schumer's bill, S. 1415, would eliminate such requirements.

However, state requirements that the signatures of absentee ballot voters be witnessed or notarized are necessary to protect the security and integrity of the absentee ballot process. Absentee ballots are unfortunately one of the biggest sources of voter fraud. Contrary to what some would think, neither of these requirements is difficult for military voters to meet. All military personnel, regardless of their location, should be able to obtain the signature of a witness. Further, federal law mandates that a wide variety of military personnel, including Judge Advocate General Corps, are federal notaries and, thus, overseas military members should have little trouble finding a notary.[48] The most that needs to be done is to ensure that all states that require notaries will accept the notarization of JAGs and any other military personnel who are authorized notaries.

If Members of Congress and their leadership are serious about protecting the rights of all voters, and, as they often claim, concerned about the welfare of American military personnel, they can provide actual proof of those sentiment by ensuring that this country's military men and women have the same right to vote as all other Americans. These four very simple legislative changes could make the difference in guaranteeing the right to vote of the largest group of disenfranchised American voters. They deserve America's support.

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Legal Scholar in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation and a former Commissioner on the Federal Election Commissioner. Eric Eversole is a former active duty officer in the Navy JAG Corps and former lawyer in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #84 on: July 31, 2009, 02:51:24 PM »

[1]2008 General Election Turnout Rates, United States Elections Project, available at http://elections.gmu.edu/Turnout_2008G.html.

[2]42 U.S.C. § 1973ff et seq. The UOCAVA was passed in 1986 to "update and consolidate provisions of current law relating to absentee registration and voting in elections for Federal office by members of the uniformed services and by citizens of the United States who reside abroad." H.R. Rep. No. 765, 99th Cong., 2nd Sess., at 5 (1986). The predecessor statutes were the Overseas Citizens Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973dd, and the Federal Voting Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973cc.

[3]Exec. Order No. 12,642, 53 Fed. Reg. 21,975 (June 8, 1988).

[4]42 U.S.C. § 1973ff1(1).

[5]Cases Raising Claims Under The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/litigation/caselist.php#
uocava_cases

[6]H.R. Rep. No. 765, 99th Cong., 2d Sess. 1011 (1986).

[7]Best Practices for Facilitating Voting by U.S. Citizens Covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, Report of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (2004); available at www.eac.gov.

[8]The authors collected data by email and telephone inquiries from 19 of the largest states with military voting populations, including: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. These states combined have nearly 60 percent of the military voting population.

[9]The FVAP collects and provides data regarding the total number of military voters in each state, including Minnesota. These figures are available at http://www.fvap.gov/reference/laws/stateinitiatives.html.

[10]Minnesota state data indicates that election officials rejected nearly 8.2 percent of cast military absentee ballots, whereas only 0.5 percent of all absentee ballots statewide were rejected. See Sheehan v. Franken, No. 62CV0956, Findings of Facts, Conclusions of Law, and Order for Judgment, at 9 (Minn. Dist. Ct. Apr. 13, 2009), available at http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/
electionlaw/litigation/documents/MNfinalorder.pdf.

[11]See Edward Blum, An Assessment of Voting Right Progress in Mississippi, American Enterprise Institute, available at www.aei.org/docLib/2006041
7_MississippiStudy.pdf; Edward Blum and Lauren Campbell, Assessment of Voting Rights Progress in Jurisdictions Covered Under Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, American Enterprise Institute, available at www.aei.org/docLib/
20060515_BlumCampbellreport.pdf.

[12]Overseas Vote Foundation, 2008 OVF Post Election UOCAVA Survey Report and Analysis, at 20 (Arlington, VA: Feb. 2009) (2008 OVF Report).

[13]Defense Manpower Data Center, Human Resources Strategic Assessment Program, 2006 Survey Results on Voting Assistance Among Military Members and DoD Civilian Employees, Survey Note No. 2007010, at 2 and Table 1 (May 7, 2007) ("2006 DMDC Survey").

[14]Id.

[15]Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act Survey Report Findings, September 2007, U.S. Election Assistance Commission, at 1, Tables 21c and 22; available at www.eac.gov.

[16]Id. at Tables 21c, 22, and 25a (showing that 658,855 ballots were not returned by the voter (992,034 - 333,179) and 34,458 ballots were returned to the local election jurisdiction as undeliverable).

[17]Id. at 1 and Table 25a.

[18]The estimate is based on data collected from 19 states (see footnote 8, supra) which showed that only 325,000 military voters out of approximately 1.5 million requested an absentee ballot for the 2008 presidential election.

[19]Under Sections 5 and 7 of the National Voter Registration Act, state motor vehicle driver's license offices as well public assistance agencies must provide voter registration opportunities to individuals using those offices. 42 U.S.C. §§ 1973gg3 and 1973gg5.

[20]See 10 U.S.C. § 1566(i)(1).

[21]Id. § 1566(f)(2).

[22]Department of Defense Inspector General, Evaluation of the Voting Assistance Program, Report No. IE2005001 (Mar. 31, 2005), http://www.
dodig.mil/inspections/IE/Reports/Final_VoterAssistanceProgram.pdf).

[23]Id. at 17, 22.

[24]Id. at 25.

[25]Id. at 22.

[26]Id. at 26.

[27]DOD Inspector General, Evaluation of the Voting Assistance Program, Report No. IE2007004 (Mar. 31, 2007), available at http://www.dodig.mil
/inspections/IE/Reports/Final_2006%20Federal%20Voting%20Assistance
%20Program_Mar%202007.pdf; see also H. Con. Res. 388, 110th Congress (2008).

[28]Id. at 6.

[29]Id.

[30]Defense Manpower Data Center, Human Resources Strategic Assessment Program, 2006 Survey Results on Voting Assistance Among Military members and DoD Civilian Employees, Survey Note No. 20007010, Table 1 (May 7, 2007).

[31]2008 General Election Turnout Rates, United States Elections Project.

[32]Id.

[33]The estimate is based on data collected from 19 states (see footnote 8, supra) which showed that approximately 106,000 of the 325,000 that were sent to military voters in the 2008 presidential election were not returned by the voter.

[34]U.S. Government Accountability Office, Operation Iraqi Freedom: Longstanding Problems Hampering Mail Delivery Need to Be Resolved, Report No. GAO04484, at 13 (Washington, D.C.: 2004).

[35]Id.

[36]Id. at 15.

[37]See Government Accountability Office, Operation Iraqi Freedom: Longstanding Problems Hampering Mail Delivery Need to Be Resolved, GAO04484, at 1012 (April 14, 2004). However, the same study found that nearly 25 percent of test letters sent to war zones took more than 18 days. Id. at 13.

[38]The state deadlines for mailing and receiving absentee ballots from military voters have been compiled in the FVAP's "Voting Assistance Guide," available at http://www.fvap.gov/vao/guide.html.

[39]Sheehan v. Franken, No. 62CV0956, Findings of Facts, Conclusions of Law, and Order for Judgment, at 9 (Minn. Dist. Ct. Apr. 13, 2009), available at http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw/litigation/documents/MNfinalorder
.pdf.

[40]H.R. 5673.

[41]S. 3073.

[42]H. Con. Res. 388.

[43]S. 1265.

[44]S. 1415, Sec. 9. Schumer's bill was passed by the Senate on July 23, 2009 as Amendment No. 1764 to S. 1390, the FY10 National Defense Authorization Act.

[45]S. 1415, Sec. 5. See also Amendment No. 1764 to S. 1390, the FY10 National Defense Authorization Act.

[46]H.R. 2393 and S. 1026. Such a requirement is also contained in Senator Schumer's bill, S. 1415, in section 5. However, the bill does not provide the DOD with a date certain by which it must collect absentee ballots or guarantee the return delivery of these ballots. In short, this bill fails to provide any assurance that the overseas military ballot will be returned to the United States in order to be counted.

[47]This limitation is apparently in the bill because John E. Potter, United States Postmaster General, protested to the Senate that no private company should be allowed to interfere with the USPS's monopoly on mail service. See Letter from John E. Potter to Senator Robert F. Bennett, Ranking Member, Committee on Rules and Administration, United States Senate (June 10, 2008).

[48]10 U.S.C. § 1044 (2008).

http://www.heritage.org/Research/LegalIssues/lm0045.cfm
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rachelg
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« Reply #85 on: August 04, 2009, 08:46:54 PM »

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/audio-care-packages-for-service-members.html

Audio care packages for service members with Google Voice

8/04/2009 04:00:00 AM (From time to time we invite guests to blog about initiatives of interest and are pleased to have Sergeant Dale Sweetnam join us here. SGT Sweetnam is working with Google's communications team this year through the U.S. Army's "Training with Industry" Program. -Ed.)

It's not easy to stay in touch with friends and family when you're fighting in a country thousands of miles from home. I spent 13 months in Iraq as an Army journalist where I flew in Black Hawks over Balad and Baghdad working to generate news coverage about my fellow soldiers. The whole experience was physically and emotionally draining, but it was especially difficult when I called home at the end of the day and nobody was there to answer.

For servicemen and women who are constantly on the move, having a single number and an easy way to retrieve messages from loved ones can be invaluable. To help our service members communicate with their loved ones and show our support to those serving our country, Google is launching a new program. Starting today, any active U.S. service member with a .mil email address can sign up for a
Google Voice account at www.google.com/militaryinvite and start using the free service within a day.

When you deploy, your life is put on hold. While you live and work in a different world, everyone else moves on with life back home. Your family and friends keep moving, and this sometimes means it's just not possible for them to stay awake until 2 a.m. to receive a phone call. Calling Iraq or Afghanistan is seldom an option.

Google Voice provides a solution to some of these problems. Service members can set up an account before they deploy. Or if they're already deployed, families can now set up an account for their service member. Loved ones can call to leave messages throughout the day, and then when that service member visits an Internet trailer, all the messages are right there. It's like a care package in audio form.

I signed up for an account when I came to Google, and it's already making communications much easier here in the States. I know when I return to combat, Google Voice will help make life a little more manageable.

Posted by U.S. Army SGT Dale Sweetnam, Army Fellow
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #86 on: August 06, 2009, 12:51:56 PM »

amongst the coverage of Michael Jackson:

http://blip.tv/play/AYGJ5h6YgmE
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« Reply #87 on: September 25, 2009, 07:18:44 AM »

By LAURA LANDRO
In World War I, it was known as "shell shock," in World War II, "battle fatigue." The British Royal Air Force called it LMF, for "lack of moral fibre." Only after the Vietnam War was a concerted effort made to understand the effect of combat on the human mind. These days, the lexicon of mental health includes the phrase "post-traumatic stress disorder," referring to a crippling condition that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event.

In "Shadow of the Sword" Jeremiah Workman, a Marine staff sergeant who won the Navy Cross for gallantry under fire in Iraq, offers a searing account of his own struggle with the demon now known simply by its acronym, PTSD. A small-town boy from Ohio who enlisted in the Marines after high school, he gets the warrior ethos drilled into him at Parris Island, the Marine Corps' boot camp, and heads to Iraq in 2004.

Soon enough, Sgt. Workman is assigned to a "mop-up crew" after the battle for Fallujah in Iraq's turbulent Anwar Province. But the mopping up proves to be an ordeal in itself. Sgt. Workman and his platoon come across a building in which fellow Marines are trapped by insurgents. In the firefight that ensues, he kills more than 20 of the enemy but loses three of his own men. The memories of the experience haunt him long after the fighting ends.

In its depiction of combat, "Shadow of the Sword" ranks with Marcus Luttrell's "Lone Survivor," the tale of the Navy Seals and Special Forces who died in a battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan. At one point in the Fallujah mop-up, Sgt. Workman's squad leaves a house they have just searched: "The volume of fire has spiked even higher. Now long automatic bursts from multiple AK's overlap each other into one sustained cacophony. I can't tell how many there are, but it has to be at least a half dozen, maybe more. A bullet skips off the roadbed a few feet in front of me. Another one smacks into the wall and gouges out a little pit from the concrete."

But the greater theme of "Shadow of the Sword" is the aftermath—the wounds that hurt from the inside. When Sgt. Workman returns from Iraq, he suffers from nightmares and unpredictable meltdowns that wreak havoc on his personal life.

“The dream was bad, the worst in weeks. The ceiling comes into focus. I blink the sleep out of my eyes. My heart races, sweat stains my sheets. I'm burning up.

Read an excerpt from 'Shadow of the Sword'

And he is not alone. A recent study by researchers at the San Francisco Veterans Administration medical center found that 37% of soldiers returning Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from a mental-health problem, most often PTSD or depression. Efforts are under way to provide better counseling and to train troops in coping skills, but there is a barrier. As a New York Times reporter put it in a story about the Army's new mental-stress training: The challenge is to "transform a military culture that has generally considered talk of emotions to be so much hand-holding, a sign of weakness."

Not surprisingly, Sgt. Workman is troubled when he finds himself diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. "All that PTSD nonsense," he writes, "was for pussies who couldn't hack a warrior's life." The acronym itself feels like "a stigma."

Still, Sgt. Workman can't help re-living the fatal day, often in flashbacks. He asks himself why he lived and others didn't and whether he could have done more to save his platoon members.

Back in Parris Island as a drill instructor, Sgt. Workman says that he is told push at least two recruits into suicide attempts, in an effort to weed out the weak. This is the only part of the book that sounds implausible, given the standards that define the Marines. One recruit slashes his wrists, he claims, which makes him feel despicable. During one drill, he has a flashback that results in a meltdown in front of the young men he is charged with making into Marines.

The flashbacks are part of the physiology of PTSD, as Sgt. Workman learns. Once the brain receives an overdose of trauma, its neurochemistry changes. Sgt. Workman likens the effect to a record gouged with scratches, causing the needle to replay the same passage again and again. Time does not heal all wounds; it can often make them worse.

 .Victims of post-traumatic stress disorder often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Some turn violent. In the middle ground there is anger. "A misplaced toy, a casual remark, a wayward glance or a traffic jam is all it takes to trigger the overreaction," Sgt. Workman writes. One day he gets so angry that he nearly kills a neighbor's dog. He is prescribed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs that numb him so much that he thinks: "I could watch my mother die right now and just shrug it off." He swallows a bottle of pills and puts a gun in his mouth before his frightened family intervenes—then doesn't remember the incident.

Sgt. Workman has other problems weighing on him, including a troubled marriage. He begins to seethe over his maltreatment as a kid by a brutish stepfather. Ultimately, though, he comes to realize that if he can't integrate his wartime experience into his life he will be a "fractured and malfunctioning human being." It is a gruff sergeant who begins to set him straight, enabling him to understand that he did everything he could to save his brothers-in-arms. "It was a terrible story, but that's war," he tells Sgt. Workman. "Men die despite our best."

Light at the end of the tunnel appears as Sgt. Workman begins to embrace his future; there is a reconciliation with his wife and a new son. He soon leaves the Marines but continues to work with a group called the Wounded Warrior Regiment. He meets many other veterans who suffer as he has suffered but who don't always want to admit they are hurting. The shame, he tells them, is not in PTSD but in refusing help: "Giving in, disgracing those we left behind and dying here at home after all we've gone through is simply not acceptable." Semper Fidelis, Sgt. Workman.

—Ms. Landro writes The Informed Patient column for the Journal. Her brother is a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves.
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« Reply #88 on: October 12, 2009, 04:58:50 PM »

A friend of mine wrote me today:

=================

I had a wonderful experience Sat night.  Got to the hotel about 1030 after an evening on the riverfront in Wilmington. 
At the lobby entrance there was a squad (about 15 men) of what was obviously marines (LaJune just up the road a piece).
I approached and asked if they were on leave. “Yes sir we got back fro Iraq last night”. I thanked them for their service and bid them a good evening.

As we checked in I started thinking. Hell I didn’t have the college soccer thing until noon Sunday and the wife, while she thought I was totally crazy, did not mind if I bought the lads a couple of libations.  So back down to the lobby I go and floated the idea to the young Marines. “No sir you don’t have to do that”. After a bit of conversation they relented so we all pile in the cabs and down to the riverfront we go.

They pick the Rhinoceros Club that has an outdoor patio. We go to the bar for a beer. “Thank you sir this is really nice of you.”  I stood back and watched from a distance. There were a group of 20 year old girls shaking and slapping each others butt… ah the men were REAL into that.  One of the girls asked me, in a NC version of a Valley girl affected accent, “Who ARE you?  You look like a cop from my home town”. One of the men asked me, in what I took as a real compliment, was I a Marine. Ya’ll know in that branch of the service, once a Marine always a Marine. I thanked him but the answer was the same as the young lady got, “I am just a guy who appreciates the service to the country.”


As they drained  beer I signaled them over for another. More thank you sir. Time went by and the men would linger at the bar for more thanks and small talk. Always the subject was of their choice. Home, family, training, officers, Afghan casualties, EOD and motor T danger, girlfriends, wives kids, motor T as room clearers, the poor bastards in the turret after an IED detonation, Afghan history, snipers, Navy customs and so forth  and so on.

 

To make a long story short for the next three hours none of those fellas had an empty hand or a dry mouth.  To a man each thanked me and expressed that this had never happened to them and they were often not treated well in Jacksonville. That surprised me. One of the old timers (a 26 year old) in his sixth year in the Marines said he had had a meal bought in an airport once.

 

Owing to my advanced age, the penalty paid for over indulgence in seniors and the hour being well beyond the witching it was time for me to take leave. Their genuine appreciation and gratitude of my simple gesture of respect was heartwarming. Undoubtedly some of the best money I have ever spent. If you have never done this I would highly recommend it.

 

Those men deploy to Afghanistan in January…

 
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« Reply #89 on: December 20, 2009, 08:49:39 AM »

I awoke this Saturday morning at PT time (0430), and looked at my surroundings.  The worst winter storm in DC for a number of years had arrived in force.  Snow, and lots of it.  Roads are closed, planes are grounded, and people are huddled comfortably inside their homes or foolishly out trying to learn how to drive in snow.

Rather than roll over, I put some warm clothes on, leashed the dogs, and out we went for some exercise and introspection. As I walked, I was trying to imagine being in those winter camps and fights so long ago.
I thought of Washington's Christmas raid at Trenton, and his last, lonely winter camp.  I thought of the soldiers at Fort Niagara. I thought of the bitter cold of the Argonne, the Huertgen Forest and Bastogne, the Aleutians, the Chosin Reservoir, the Sava River, and Tora Bora.

As I thought of those heroes of our past, those legendary Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen that we regularly honor and pay tribute to, I thought of those quiet professionals in current fights that we don't speak of often enough.

Look around on any forward operating base or outpost in Afghanistan, the Philippines or Iraq.  Watch the Soldiers passing through our airports coming home on or returning from R&R.  Listen to speeches during a deployment or redployment ceremony.  Stand silently and render honors to one of our fallen (something which is hardly more sincere than on Disney Road and at that airfield!).

Modern American heroes (not our over-indulged athletes or actors) are hardly given their due.  They walked or still pass quietly among us, never seeking acknowledgement or fame, but simply doing their duty as they have sworn oaths to do.  We already know some of their names:

- Smith, Murphy, Monsoor, Dunham, McGinnis - Medal of Honor;
- Hollenbaugh, Cooper, Nein, Sanford, Coffman - Distinguished Service Cross;
- Hester, Birch, Roundtree, Kandarian, LaFrenz - Silver Star;
- Kopp, Shumney, Kuban, DeLeon, Gentry - Bronze Star for Valor;
- Biggs, Carbone, Turecheck, Rushing, Berwald - Army Commendation for Valor.

And, I submit, for every warrior we acknowledge in a ceremony, there are a hundred or a thousand more who are never acknowledged for the difference they make every day.

So as I finished my peaceful walk in the snow, I thought of the Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors that are carrying the fight away from home so that I could have this walk in peace, and I am forever grateful.  I thought of those in MRAPs slowly searching roadways for hidden dangers, others working with local police to secure a village, and yet others moving quietly and quickly to eliminate or capture a hidden enemy, and I am filled with pride.

Wherever you are, and whatever you do or did to continue to guarantee my safety and freedom, I thank each of you in, headed to, returning from, or supporting the fight.  You are my heroes, and I thank you.

CSM Jeff Mellinger
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« Reply #90 on: December 25, 2009, 07:35:42 PM »

Though its perspective is Christian and mine is not, I agree with the larger point the following makes.  I hope to trigger more posts on this subject:
=======================
I've grown quite fond of a show on the History Channel called "Warriors". In
this show US Army Green Beret Terry Schappert goes all over the world to
study, engage and report on the great warrior cultures of history. In one
episode he profiled the Zulu people of South Africa and the warrior culture
which, under the sometimes brutal leadership of Shaka Zulu, changed the very
nature of warfare in Africa. But what captured my interest was not the
weapons and tactics of the Zulu warriors-it was what happened after the
battle. The Zulu community understood that their men returning from battle
had blood on their hands. In most cases they did not have the benefit of
long range weaponry that made the killing distant and faceless, but instead
had experienced the physical and psychological horrors of close quarters
combat with edged and blunt force weapons. As any combat veteran will tell
you, reintegrating into a peaceful society after witnessing the bloody
carnage of war is no simple matter, especially if there is blood on your own
hands. So, as the men returned from fighting they underwent spiritual
cleansing rituals which were intended to cleanse their hands of the blood
they had shed, freeing their consciences from guilt, their hearts of blood
lust, and helping them to transition back into peaceful life inside the
community. Schappert, a seasoned combat veteran himself, was clearly moved
by this, turning to the camera and explaining that "we don't get this."

And I really have to wonder why.

Why is it that we find it so easy to send our young people off to war,
giving them the latest, greatest and most effective training and weaponry on
the planet, applaud them for accomplishing their mission with honor and
valor, and then find it so difficult to reintegrate them into our peace
loving society when the battle is over? The secular authorities take steps
to provide counseling, treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
and other post-war psychological and psychiatric issues and I do not mean to
downplay the vital importance of the counseling disciplines in dealing with
the whole person, but I am convinced that the Church of Jesus Christ has a
profoundly important role to play in the lives of our returning warriors.
But to first discover what that role is we need to first swallow our western
pride and take a lesson from the Zulus. True, the Zulus were animistic in
their beliefs and practices and we do not condone or affirm anything that is
contrary to the Scriptures, but that doesn't mean the Zulus got it all wrong
on what a warrior returning from combat needs. We are quick to celebrate and
honor God's call on some to be warriors. We should be all the more eager to
honor the warriors who have heeded that call and return to us with blood on
their hands and horrifying images that have been seared into their minds by
being first in line to help give them what they really need: spiritual
cleansing.

The Zulus, along with just a few other warrior cultures throughout history
including some Native American Indian tribes, correctly understood that the
cleansing a warrior needed was deeply spiritual. For some reason we in the
US have seemed largely content with seeing our returning warriors' needs as
primarily mental and emotional, and trying to help them in those areas. But
as the Church we understand that God created us as multi-layered
people-physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. These layers overlap
and intermingle, creating powerful reactions throughout the entire being
when any single layer is acted upon. When your heart is broken you can't
eat. When your mind is racing you can't sleep. Fasting quickens the spirit.
Emotive music can soothe and pacify or excite and invigorate the mind and
body. God created it all, and never intended that any part be ignored. Plato
thought the spiritual was to be valued to the exclusion of the temporal
(physical, emotional, intellectual), but he went too far. The temporal
aspects are also part of God's human creation and are therefore precious in
His sight! But the spiritual layer-the soul-is foundational to the rest. The
body, the heart and the mind are dead without the soul, and outside of
Christ the soul is dead. If the body, heart and mind have participated in or
even simply witnessed the unnatural act of taking a human life-no matter how
despicable that life may have been-the only hope for that person's cleansing
is through a soul that is made alive in Christ Jesus, and a soul-bond to the
resurrected Christ where Jesus' blood is brought to bear against the
darkness left in war's wake. We are comfortable with the blood of Christ
cleansing us from sin, and we need to be comfortable with the truth that the
blood of Christ also "heals all your diseases" (Psalm 103:3). Isn't the
blood of Jesus who gave His life for that warrior in your midst also enough
to cleanse his hands of the blood of the enemy and make powerless the
memories that fester and haunt him in the middle of the night? Isn't the Son
who raised the dead also able to heal the heart and mind that have been
scarred by the horror of war? We confess that Jesus' blood is all that we
need. It's time to put that confession into action in a new way.

The War on Terror is much more than an ideological struggle-it is the very
battle between good and evil, between freedom and slavery, fulfilling the
word of the angel of the Lord in Genesis 16:12, that the hand of Ishmael
will be against everyone, and everyone's hand against him. It is a spiritual
war waged first in the heavenly realms, spilling over into the created world
where casualties are by no means limited to the physically wounded and
killed. As a result our nation is now faced with a spiritual humanitarian
disaster of cataclysmic proportions as our warriors return from battlefields
in the middle east. Our brave soldiers have shed the blood of the enemy, and
have had their hands stained by the blood of their brethren whom they were
not able to save. The secular world may be able to help the mind and body,
but it cannot hope to touch the spiritual wounds these warriors now
bear-only Jesus can. As the nation welcomes them home with pomp and
circumstance, let us, the Church, welcome them in with minds that understand
them, hearts that weep with them, arms that hold them and hands that pour
the oil of anointing in rich, spiritual ceremony, washing their hands,
hearts, minds and souls in the cleansing blood of Christ.
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Rarick
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« Reply #91 on: December 26, 2009, 10:47:37 AM »

In war and 48 hours later, peacefulville USA.   The Warrior, fresh from the warzone is aggressively confronted by a drunk, still being on war reflexes the warrior reacts killing the drunk.  Who is at fault?  You make an excellent point about there being some sort of ritual for someone to go through to turn off his kill switches.

This is probably part of the reason vetrans remain silent, they KNOW that 99% of the population simply does not have a clue, and a few are still of the "baby killer" camp.  Maybe they find an understang priest of their faith, or have just figured out their own process.  There are some that don't have it figured out and you get a nasty destroyed mess when the wrong buttons are pushed. It is a hard nasty job support lady liberty in the style she has become accustomed, and I see indicators everyday that it is not understood.

When was the last time you drove your car to the corner store instead of walking the block for that gallon of milk?
Why are you buying that Hummer, then emasculating it with those rims and other bling that makes it simply a status symbol rather than a legitamate truck?
When was the last time you thought, what can I do to keep them from having to go do that again?

Like I said no one understands that there are litlle thing we do everyday that affect things in the big picture, and we end up burning blood in the gas tanks, wearing blood in our clothes, snoting blood in our recreational drugs..............

Sorry about the soapbox, but I think the point had to be made.
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« Reply #92 on: May 02, 2010, 09:02:11 AM »

Military tells Congress to keep gay ban for now - Yahoo! News

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100430/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/us_military_gays
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Rarick
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« Reply #93 on: May 04, 2010, 05:24:11 AM »

It is an issue the troops have generally adjusted to, why solve a problem that has been solved?  easier to let congress think it is tabled for a while while the war is fought, peripherial bullcrap is not needed.
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« Reply #94 on: May 15, 2010, 12:37:35 AM »

is bad for customer relations.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PnlWHdJGLM&feature=player_embedded
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« Reply #95 on: May 15, 2010, 11:50:43 AM »

Second post of the day:

It may be "Armed Forces Day" today, but they are there every day for us.  Let us do the same for them.
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« Reply #96 on: May 24, 2010, 07:13:48 PM »

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100524/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_gays_military
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« Reply #97 on: September 27, 2010, 07:50:22 AM »

From Michael Yon, who has this site's full support:
========================================

Dear Friend,
 
I have just returned to Afghanistan and I’m writing to tell you about a new book project I’m working on and an important organization that I’m backing with this book. I hope you will too.
 
ABOUT SOLDIERS’ ANGELS
Soldiers’ Angels is a volunteer-led nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the American soldier in the field.  Morally, materially, and spiritually. Its volunteers number over 200,000.  In my opinion, SA is the most effective of all civilian support groups. You’ve read about them in some of my dispatches as I have been a champion of their heroic efforts for years.
 
Soldier’s Angels has a number of great projects, including Adopt a Soldier, which matches one soldier in the field to one supporter or family at home who sends a letter every week and a care package at least once a month. But their most important contribution is also one of the most expensive is theFirst Response Backpack.
 
U.S. military personnel who are injured or wounded are moved out to treatment so fast that sometimes their gear and personal items never catch up with them.  Evacuated in the clothing damaged or removed during treatment, these soldiers often find themselves without basic supplies. A Soldiers’ Angels First Response Backpack provides comfortable clothing, a full set of travel-sized toiletries and accessories, an international calling card the soldier can use to phone home, and a handmade Blanket of Hope. To date, Soldiers’ Angels has distributed more than 15,000 backpacks to the wounded.
 
I’ve seen the great impact Soldiers’ Angels has in the field, so you won’t be surprised that I want to help them. Or that I’m asking you to join me in that effort.
 
A NEW BOOK DEDICATED TO THE MISSION & SOLDIERS’ ANGELS
 
I am currently at work on a new book called IRAQ: INSIDE THE INFERNO. It will cover my years reporting in the field from 2005-2008. It will tell, with words and pictures, the dramatic story of how we won the war in Iraq – not primarily with our overwhelming technology, not with shock and awe destruction, but with the far more important force of American values.
 
The book will assemble some two hundred of the most powerful, telling, and dramatic photographs I have taken in Iraq (many never before published). With my publisher, Richard Vigilante Books, we have enlisted an award-winning documentary producer from Discovery Channel, Karen Kraft, and her handpicked team to create the book.  Pictures of American warriors at work, engaged in killing terrorists or rebuilding a school or a shattered neighborhood. My intent is to combine the best of my pictures with the best of my writing to create an entirely new type of experience. And for the final product to have the enduring memorial value of the most treasured, well-crafted volume in a great library.
 
IRAQ: INSIDE THE INFERNO will come off the press for shipment late this year before the holidays, but my publisher is not going to ship the regular version to bookstores until Spring. Why?  Because we want to raise $50,000 to help Soldiers’ Angels.
 
To meet this goal, my publisher is creating a limited number of boxed, signed, and numbered deluxe editions of the book to be offered exclusively to my supporters and both of us are contributing a portion of our proceeds to Soldier’s Angels.
 
THIS BOOK IS SPECIAL
This 220 page, full color book will be printed on the finest paper used for art books and bound using timeless techniques of the book-makers’ craft. Here are some of the details:

- The pages will be Smythe sewn, not just glued the way most books are today.
- The paper is acid free and guaranteed to last 800 years without yellowing or deterioration.
-  The beautiful cloth cover – not plastic or some other synthetic fabric – will be gold stamped on both front and spine.
- And each book will be encased in a cloth-covered, gold stamped slipcase.
 
I will personally sign and hand-number each copy of this special edition and enclose a certificate, suitable for framing, to memorialize your support of my mission and of Soldiers’ Angels.
 
PRE-ORDERS
The cost for each signed, numbered deluxe copy is $49.95, plus shipping.  A lot of money, but here is the bottom line:  The money we raise from sales of this book is crucial not only to support my own mission but for our goal of raising at least $50,000 for Soldiers’ Angels. That’s why we have tried so hard to create a work that expresses our gratitude for your support. As you know, I have returned to Afghanistan just days ago and my arrangement with my publisher provides book royalties to me earlier than a traditional publishing arrangement in order to assist me with my mission.
 
My publisher is now accepting pre-orders for IRAQ: INSIDE THE INFERNO. Pre-ordering will guarantee you a copy – we can print this special edition only once – and within days of the book coming off the press. If our experience with the special signed edition of my last book, A Moment of Truth in Iraq, is any guide, it will sell out, so the only way to absolutely guarantee you will be able to get a copy is to pre-order.
 
More importantly, pre-orders will help us raise funds for Soldiers’ Angels more quickly. I’d be thrilled if we could raise all of the $50,000 we have targeted for Soldiers’ Angels on pre-orders of the special edition alone. If we can do that, then we can raise even more.
 
I think you’ll love the book and hope you’ll pre-order today. It makes a great gift, especially because it is also a gift to the American soldier, who, as I said in A Moment of Truth In Iraq, ‘is not only the most dangerous man in the world, but the best man, too.’


--
Very Respectfully,
Michael Yon
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« Reply #98 on: December 22, 2010, 10:36:51 AM »

Not having served, my idea is that DADT and related matters are for those who do, not Barney Frank et al in the US Congress.

=========================

"The U.S. military, already strained by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, faces transformation from the world's most powerful fighting machine into an organization where political correctness is more important than victory. Saturday's Senate vote cleared the final hurdle for the repeal of President Clinton's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy designed to prevent homosexual conduct in the ranks. Battle lines will now form over how the homosexual advocacy policies will be implemented. Though the repudiated lawmakers who rammed the repeal through this weekend's session pretend they are simply latter-day Rosa Parkses seeking to end discrimination, there is no comparison. Since 2005, a mere 1 percent of Army discharges involved homosexual conduct. This issue isn't about retaining or recruiting qualified personnel for the military. This is part of the Left's larger societal goal of using government to force others to embrace unorthodox personal lifestyle choices. The implications are clear from a look at how the federal government treats issues of homosexuality. ... Troops can look forward to so-called pride parades on military bases and awareness days for the transgendered. Everyone knows the sort of thing that might work in Greenwich Village or a San Francisco neighborhood doesn't go over well in a fighting force drawn largely from red state America -- an area whose residents Mr. Obama once derisively referred to as the type who 'cling to guns or religion.' That's why implementing the New Gay Army means forcing soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to endure 'diversity' training. Those who don't like it will be told to get out, as several senior military leaders have suggested already. Chaplains in particular will face the dilemma that preaching their faith will violate the new pro-homosexual code of conduct. As a result, far more are likely to leave or be thrown out of the military as a result of Mr. Obama's policy than were ever affected by Mr. Clinton's. It's hard to see how that will do anything to strengthen the nation's defenses." --The Washington Times

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« Reply #99 on: December 22, 2010, 01:41:18 PM »

"It's hard to see how that will do anything to strengthen the nation's defenses."

It's not supposed to strengthen the nation's defenses, it's supposed to make deviant sexual behavior a norm via gov't fiat.
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