Showing posts with label combat casualties. Show all posts
Showing posts with label combat casualties. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chaplain casualty-care video game draws fire

Oh my God how much more are they going to keep getting wrong? They are right here in Orlando on top of everything else!

Chaplain casualty-care video game draws fire
By Michael Peck
Posted : Wednesday Feb 13, 2013

An Army computer game to train military chaplains may bring judicial rather than divine intervention. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is vowing to stop the project, and possibly file a lawsuit in federal court.

The simulation, tentatively named Spiritual Triage, is being created for the Army’s Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson, S.C., but the school doesn’t want it.

“The school still hasn’t made any requests for the simulation, nor does it intend to at this point,” said spokeswoman Julia Simpkins.

Spiritual Triage is beginning development at the Army’s Simulation and Training Technology Center, which awarded the contract to Orlando, Fla.-based Engineering and Computer Simulations. Scheduled to be completed by September, Spiritual Triage is intended to expose chaplains and chaplain assistants to stressful situations such as ministering to dying soldiers.

“Non-player characters are used to elicit feelings and conditions that one may encounter, such as fear of death and dying, faith, guilt, separation, despair, grief, as well as physical trauma such as pain, burns, amputations, and disfigurement, to name only a few,” according to the ECS website.
read more here

Friday, January 25, 2013

Military women bigger kahunas than Tucker Carlson

Military women bigger kahunas than Tucker Carlson
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
January 25, 2013

There is something about military women that keeps getting missed in all the reports coming out about how they are now going to be allowed to have combat jobs technically when they were already doing most of them. The fact that they have to not only face the same threats to their lives as males, they are also willing to face the fact they could be raped by them. Think about that. They are that determined to serve their country they are even prepared to face that horrible possibility. It hasn't been bad enough for them they have had to hear some male chauvinists shoot off his mouth when he won't even pay attention to what is going on.

Tucker Carlson does not know this is not an office job.
Memorial Day weekend at Walter Reed in 2010 I flew to Washington to meet up with the Nam Knights in Washington for the Memorial ride to the Vietnam War Memorial. When I landed, I caught a cab to Walter Reed for a VIP tour and a chance to meet some of the wounded heroes I wrote about all the time. As a Chaplain with two organizations, I was given the opportunity to talk to these men and yes, wounded women, for as long as I wanted to.

One of them was a young woman the same age as my daughter. (not the woman in the picture) She was a beautiful blonde with stunning eyes. She was an MP and an RPG took off a leg above the knee. When I walked into the room, her Mom was there. I thought about how I would feel with my own daughter lying in that bed and then I decided to not show any sadness.

I talk to her for a bit, then told her about a triple amputee I know and how he handled life afterwards. She started to laugh. Her Mom wiped happy tears of relief from her face. The MP looked up at her Mom with a big smile and said, "Well, thank God it wasn't higher!"

She understood her life was far from over. I understood that when people say things against military women, they are stunningly stupid. They have no clue what these women are like.
By the numbers: Women in the U.S. military
January 24, 2013

More than 200,000 women are in the active-duty military, including 69 generals and admirals. A quick look at women in the military, according to Pentagon figures.
Tucker Carlson has the right to remain safe at home along with the right to prove just how uninformed he is. The thing he missed is that while he thinks this,
Tucker Carlson ✔ @TuckerCarlson
Feminism's latest victory: the right to get your limbs blown off in war. Congratulations.

It was already happening but he just didn't notice. Lt. Dawn Halfaker was featured in this article in 2005!
Women in combat: One soldier's story
By Jake Tapper and Jessica Metzger
January 24th, 2013

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jake Tapper is an anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent for CNN. He’s also the author of the best-selling book about Afghanistan “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor”

In her senior year at West Point, Candace Fisher decided she wanted to join the Military Police since it would allow her the most options “to do the most soldier-like things,” Fisher recalled in an interview with CNN.

In 2006 and 2007, Fisher served at what would become Combat Outpost Keating, one of the most dangerous bases in Afghanistan. Fisher – who then went by her maiden name, Mathis – led a platoon of Military Police, supervising 36 troops, including six other women, attached to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 71st Cavalry.

With Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announcing today that the Pentagon would end its policy of excluding women from combat positions, Fisher – reached at Fort Leonard Wood in the Missouri Ozarks, where she is currently a small group leader for an officer leadership course – said the Army was acknowledging what has already in many ways become a reality in the military.

“It’s a formalization of what we’ve been experimenting with the last ten to twelve years in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Fisher told CNN. “I think that those two conflicts have probably given the Army a pretty good idea of whether or not an actual policy change was warranted.”

Even though Fisher is Military Police and not Infantry or Cavalry, she says “given the nature of the fight over the last ten years or so, it’s made us all very dependent on each other as far as branches, interdependent as far as combined action and combined arms. So there has been a lot of bleed-over for missions regardless of what branch you are based on the conflict.”

During one mission in October 2006, Fisher and her MPs were teamed up with Able Troop’s 3rd platoon when they had to push through a complex ambush. The female MPs returned fire along with the male soldiers. Actually, one male soldier recalled, with their AT-4 grenade launchers, the MPs had stronger firepower than the scout platoon.
read more here

Single mom fought alongside combat troops in Afghanistan
CNN iReport
By Ashley Fantz, CNN
January 25, 2013

An unemployed single mom with bills to pay decides to enlist in the Army
In Afghanistan, Kimberly Bratic worked with a combat team
One of her three sons struggled with her decision to leave
She just got home to Ohio and still cannot find a job

(CNN) -- Kimberly Bratic hauled her gear up Afghan mountains. She went into areas where Taliban lived. She grieved when fellow soldiers were blown up by a suicide bomber. She missed her family for a year, and heard the worry in her sons' voices when she got the rare chance to call home.

She lay awake, thinking, "What if I don't make it home?"

The only difference between the 39-year-old single mom and the men she went on 70 missions with was their job titles.

U.S. lifts ban on women in combat

The guys were combat infantry. She was a public affairs specialist, the person who documented their experience training Afghan military and police. read more here

Monday, June 18, 2012

Blast flattened the dining hall and post exchange at Forward Operating Base Salerno

Attack at US base in Afghanistan worse than initially disclosed
The Washington Post
Published: June 16, 2012

KABUL — A June 1 attack on a U.S. outpost near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border was much worse than originally disclosed by the military as insurgents pounded the base with a truck bomb, killing two Americans and seriously wounding about three dozen troops, officials acknowledged Saturday.

The blast flattened the dining hall and post exchange at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost province, a frequent target of insurgents in the past. Five Afghan civilians were killed and more than 100 other U.S. troops were treated for minor injuries. U.S. officials estimated that the truck was carrying 1,500 pounds of explosives.

U.S. and Afghan military officials said they killed 14 insurgents, many of whom were wearing suicide vests.

The scale of the attack and the extent of the U.S. casualties contrast with the official description presented by coalition forces on the day of the assault. In a clipped, one-paragraph news release on June 1, the military said U.S. and Afghan forces “successfully repelled the attack and secured the base.”

The statement did not report any casualties, nor that there was a truck bomb.

“It was a very huge explosion,” said Daoud Khan Makeen, head of the provincial council in Khost. He said that houses as far as two miles away were damaged in the blast and that 20 Afghans were wounded, many of them by collapsed buildings.

Although the public was kept in the dark about the details, Obama administration officials seized on the incident afterward as the latest example of how Pakistan is allowing insurgents to use its territory to plan attacks, causing another international row between Washington and Islamabad.
read more here

Monday, April 23, 2012

Only 61 survived USS Hobson

N.J. soldiers who endured a naval catastrophe spill their stories of survival 60 years later
Published: Sunday, April 22, 2012

By Kevin Manahan
The Star-Ledger

On a Saturday afternoon in April 1952, two days before his ship would leave for duty during the Korean War, Joseph Torrisi dashed off a two-page letter to his older sister, Rose, on embossed U.S. Navy stationery. A three-cent stamp brought it from Charleston, S.C., to the 400-room Hotel Douglas in Newark, where she was living at the time.

A week earlier, he had sent a note to his mom in Bloomfield, proudly announcing he had found, in Charleston, a Catholic church and, more miraculously, a restaurant that served homemade ravioli.

In tidy penmanship that would have made his grammar-school nuns beam, the 32-year-old wrote that he was spending more money than he had planned, but he wasn’t sweating it. Thanks to a payday aboard ship, he would be flush when he reached Spain, France, Italy, Sicily and Greece.

His destroyer, the USS Hobson, was scheduled to visit 20 Mediterranean ports — a cushy assignment welcomed by Torrisi, a career Navy man who, curiously, disliked life on the sea.

"The next time I write will be from some place I haven’t been to," he told his sister.

But he never made it.

Five days after his final letter arrived in New Jersey, Joseph Torrisi was asleep in his lower-tier bunk at 10:21 p.m., when, during a deadly war-games blunder, the Hobson was sliced in two by the 40,000-ton Wasp, a U.S. aircraft carrier.

Seven hundred miles from the Azores, in cold, turbulent North Atlantic seas three miles deep, the Hobson sank in four minutes or less, taking 176 men with her. Only 61 survived.
read more here

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Marines promoted inflated story for Medal of Honor Dakota Meyer


Corps, journalist at odds over Meyer report
By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Dec 15, 2011 20:55:00 EST
Outraged Marine Corps officials scrambled Thursday to defend against allegations that the service inflated accounts of the battlefield actions that led to Sgt. Dakota Meyer receiving the Medal of Honor.

The outcry was prompted by a McClatchy Newspapers investigative report, published Wednesday, that said portions of the Corps’ descriptions of the Sept. 8, 2009, battle in Ganjgal, Afghanistan, were “untrue, unsubstantiated or exaggerated.” McClatchy raised questions about details in Meyer’s award citation and in a narrative account of the battle in Ganjgal, a remote mountain village in Kunar province, published on the Corps’ official website.

The narrative was posted on the website Aug. 12, the same day the White House announced that Meyer would receive the award. It was produced separately from the military awards process, and credits Meyer, 23, with saving 13 U.S. service members and 23 Afghan forces during the fierce firefight while making five trips into a valley under heavy enemy fire.
read more here

Before you get as angry as I was when I first started reading this, McClatchy went on to say that the spin on Meyer's action was not necessary since what he did was worthy of the Medal of Honor. The reason why the Marines would do such a thing may be tied to the controversy over the failures at the other end causing heroic actions from Meyer as well as Capt. Will Swenson that day.
Was this all about changing the focus of reporters from what happened to focusing on Dakota Meyer? The families of the Marines lost that day would like to know why but above that, they want the heroes honored and the guilty to pay.

Marines promoted inflated story for Medal of Honor winner



WASHINGTON -- With Dakota Meyer standing at attention in his dress uniform, sweat glistening on his forehead under the television lights, President Barack Obama extolled the former Marine corporal for the "extraordinary actions" that had earned him the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor.

Obama told the audience in the White House East Room on Sept. 15 that Meyer had driven into the heart of a savage ambush in eastern Afghanistan against orders. He'd killed insurgents at near-point-blank range, twice leapt from his gun turret to rescue two dozen Afghan soldiers and saved the lives of 13 U.S. service members as he fought to recover the bodies of four comrades, the president said.

But there's a problem with this account: Crucial parts that the Marine Corps publicized and Obama described are untrue, unsubstantiated or exaggerated, according to dozens of military documents McClatchy Newspapers examined.

Sworn statements by Meyer and others who participated in the battle indicate that he didn't save the lives of 13 U.S. service members, leave his vehicle to scoop up 24 Afghans on his first two rescue runs or lead the final push to retrieve the four dead Americans. Moreover, it's unclear from the documents whether Meyer disobeyed orders when he entered the Ganjgal Valley on Sept. 8, 2009.

The statements also offer no proof that the 23-year-old Kentucky native "personally killed at least eight Taliban insurgents," as the account on the Marine Corps website says. The driver of Meyer's vehicle attested to seeing "a single enemy go down."

What's most striking is that all this probably was unnecessary. Meyer, the 296th Marine to earn the medal, by all accounts deserved his nomination. At least seven witnesses attested to him performing heroic deeds "in the face of almost certain death."

Braving withering fire, he repeatedly returned to the ambush site with Army Capt. William Swenson and others to retrieve Afghan casualties and the dead Americans. He suffered a shrapnel wound in one arm and was sent home after the battle with combat-related stress. Meyer's commander, Lt. Col. Kevin Williams, commended him for acts of "conspicuous gallantry at the risk of his life ... above and beyond the call of duty."

But an exhaustive assessment by a McClatchy correspondent who was embedded with the unit and survived the ambush found that the Marines' official accounts of Meyer's deeds - retold in a book, countless news reports and on U.S. military websites - were embellished. They're marred by errors and inconsistencies, ascribe actions to Meyer that are unverified or didn't happen and create precise, almost novelistic detail out of the jumbled and contradictory recollections of the Marines, soldiers and pilots engaged in battle.
read more here

One report on this credited Capt. Will Swenson.
Capt. Will Swenson recommended for Medal of Honor Army Capt. Will Swenson has been recommended by the top U.S. general in Afghanistan for the Medal of Honor after widespread speculation about why his heroism had gone unrecognized, according to a published report.

Swenson braved enemy fire on Sept. 8, 2009, with Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, who will receive the nation’s top valor award Thursday at the White House. Meyer, now a sergeant in the Individual Ready Reserve, told Marine Corps Times recently that it was “ridiculous” Swenson already hadn’t received some form of valor award.

“I’ll put it this way,” the outspoken Meyer said in an interview. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be alive today.”

Medal of Honor for Army Capt. Will Swenson will make two for same battle

Here is another story on this that was not covered as much as it should have been.

Approval of Swenson’s award had apparently stalled, but it received new scrutiny last month by Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The second look came after rampant speculation as to why Swenson had not received an award for valor.

Relatives of Ganjgal fallen want answers about accountability

Susan Price, the mother of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Aaron Kenefick, who died during the firefight, told CBS she was unhappy with official reprimands that followed a 2010 military inquiry into U.S. planning and decisions during the battle.

Charlene Westbrook, widow of Army Sgt. Kenneth Westbrook, who died from his wounds after the firefight, said mistakes made during the battle were caused by negligence. She also criticized the military’s follow-up.

“These letters of reprimand are just clearly slaps on the wrist,” Westbrook said. “These officers need to be court-martialed.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Marines return from Valley of Death

Marines return from Valley of Death; memorial planned
October 18, 2011

When British forces had responsibility for clearing the Taliban stronghold in the Gereshk Valley in southern Afghanistan, the British press referred to the region as the "Valley of Death."

And when Marines from the Twentynine Palms-based, 3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment arrived seven months ago "they had to fight their way in," according to a story in USA Today.

Now the Marines from Three-Four are returning to Twentynine Palms, after five dead and dozens wounded during the deployment.
read more here

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

4 Marine combat deaths under investigation

4 Marine combat deaths under investigation
By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Oct 18, 2011 5:34:26 EDT

Clockwise from upper left: Lance Cpl. Benjamin Schmidt, Lance Cpl. John Wimpey Cagle, First Lt. Ryan Iannelli and Lance Cpl. Terry Wright

The Marine Corps has launched at least four investigations into deaths in Afghanistan within the last month, a move typically reserved for casualties that occur under unusual circumstances.

The Marine casualties were with units ranging from conventional infantry battalions to a helicopter squadron.

They include:
Lance Cpl. Benjamin Schmidt
Lance Cpl. John Wimpey Cagle
First Lt. Ryan Iannelli
Lance Cpl. Terry Wright
read more here

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Children of fallen troops turn to each other

We can list the number of the fallen but then we don't think much about their families. For them, for the spouse and the kids, they end up without someone they love and the lifestyle they have known.

Children of fallen troops turn to each other
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — After Brooke Nyren's dad died in Iraq, she sat alone at recess because her classmates didn't know what to say. One of Alexis Wright's fellow kindergarteners questioned if she was telling the truth about her dad's death in the war, while others told her it was too confusing to understand why she didn't have a father.

More than 4,300 children of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are growing up, forging their own paths while keeping the connection to their mom or dad alive in ways ranging from annual backyard barbeques on the anniversary of the parent's death to keeping a music box of his favorite song.

They've endured awkward conversations with people unsure how to respond when they describe how their parent — typically their father — died in the war and unkind remarks from friends at school. Many of them lost not just a parent but their home, too, because they had to move off a military base. As painful as their memories are, those interviewed at a camp for children of the fallen say the experience has made them more compassionate.

The kids interviewed describe the annual "good grief" camp organized by the nonprofit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors every Memorial Day weekend as one outlet that's allowed them to learn to work through their feelings, and many attend every year.
read more here
Children of fallen troops turn to each other

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Deadly year for Fort Campbell's casualty assistance center

Deadly Afghan year takes toll on 101st Airborne
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — The 101st Airborne Division, a force in America's major conflicts since World War II, is seeing its worst casualties in a decade as the U.S. surge in Afghanistan turns into the deadliest year in that war for the NATO coalition.

The Army division known as the Screaming Eagles, created ahead of the 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy, has lost 104 men this year — or about 1 in 5 American deaths in Afghanistan. That is close to a toll of 105 divisional deaths in Iraq during a 2005-2006 deployment that was its deadliest year in combat since Vietnam.

The 20,000-strong division from Fort Campbell has been fighting in two of Afghanistan's most violent regions, the south and the east, since it began deploying in February under President Barack Obama's plan to roll back the Taliban with more troops. This is also the first time the division has deployed in its entirety since Gen. David Petraeus led them during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Few are as directly involved in dealing with each soldier's death as Kimberley McKenzie, the chief of Fort Campbell's casualty assistance center.

Among the first to be notified after a combat death, McKenzie and her nine staffers ensure families are swiftly informed, then help them over ensuing weeks and months to navigate a bureacratic maze of paperwork and decisions.

"We can get the calls at 2 o'clock in the morning, and that happens seven days a week," she said.

In her office, signs of the somber work are everywhere. Electronic bugles — which now replace live renditions of taps at many military funerals — are lined up in cases. A folded American flag, ready to be presented to a wife or a mother, sits on a desk. Wooden ceremonial display cases for a soldier's awards and decorations are stored atop filing cabinets. A large whiteboard on one wall displays the names of dozens of soldiers who have died this year.

McKenzie, 46, has been doing this job at Fort Campbell on the Tennessee-Kentucky state line since the 1990s, through the Desert Storm and Desert Shield operations against Iraq in 1990 and 1991 to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"I have been here so long, which can be a blessing and a curse because you know so many of the soldiers," she said.

After the initial call, her team hurries to find a soldier's family. From the moment the death of a soldier is confirmed with the Department of the Army, regulations give them just four hours to notify the primary next of kin.

Often it's a nationwide search for parents or spouses who are far from Fort Campbell. A family may have moved and not told the Army, listed information may be incorrect or the soldier may be estranged from relatives. Too often, she says, a family member is listed as "address unknown."
read more here
Deadly Afghan year takes toll on 101st Airborne

Thursday, June 24, 2010

American casualties total 500,000

Yes it is true they hide the real numbers, but even these numbers are low. Many people working with the troops know we're already past the million mark. Very sad.

IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN: American casualties total 500,000, counting injury and disease, writer claims
June 24, 2010 10:07 am
Here's an eye-popping number:

A blogger and writer claims American military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan now exceed 500,000.

That's if you count certain injuries and diseases including mental illness that he alleges the Department of Defense doesn't include in its official combat-related casualty toll in an effort to soften U.S. military losses in the wars and win funding for them from the Congress.

For example, cases of traumatic brain injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, as a result of serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are excluded from the official list of casualties.
"Under this scheme, chronic injuries and many acute internal injuries such as hearing impairment, back injuries, mild traumatic brain injuries, mental health problems and a host of diseases suffered by personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan are usually not counted as being war-related regardless of how debilitating they are," writes Matthew Nasuti in an article published on the Afghan news site and media organization Kabul Press. "They are either generally lumped into the category of 'non-hostile wounded' or simply not counted at all."

Masuti is a former Air Force captain and Los Angeles deputy city attorney who worked for the State Department in Iraq for a spell. He's now a critic of the U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The writer claims that 95% of injured soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen were not reported as casualties due to what he refers to as the Pentagon's "fudging the numbers" in a bid to win funding from American lawmakers to finance the wars.
read more here
American casualties total 500,000

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Count the witnesses to know the need to address PTSD

According to, the current death count for US forces in Iraq is 4,402 and for Afghanistan, 1,103.

Given the fact a company can be ten more, 5,503 would mean there would have been about 55,030 witnesses.

To get a better understanding of what these witnesses see, look at the number of IED attacks coupled with the numbers of amputations from Vietnam to Afghanistan to Iraq.

Squad - 9 to 10 soldiers. Typically commanded by a sergeant or staff sergeant, a squad or section is the smallest element in the Army structure, and its size is dependent on its function.

Vietnam War
Hostile deaths: 47,359

Non-hostile deaths: 10,797

Total: 58,156 (including men formerly classified as MIA and Mayaguez casualties).

Highest state death rate: West Virginia--84.1. (The national average death rate for males in 1970 was 58.9 per 100,000).

WIA: 303,704 - 153,329 required hospitalization, 50,375 who did not.

Severely disabled: 75,000, 23,214 were classified 100% disabled. 5,283 lost
limbs, 1,081 sustained multiple amputations. Amputation or crippling wounds to the lower extremities were 300% higher than in WWII and 70% higher than in Korea. Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of 18.4% compared to 5.7% in WWII.

How many US Military amputees are there due to the Iraq War?

The 2009 United States Military Casualty Statistics report, published by the Congressional Research Service, states the amputee population in the US Military forces due to Operation Iraq Freedom (OIF) consists of 1,091 servicemembers. This number represents 85% of the total servicemember amputations occurred between 2001 and 2009. More than 50% of the amputations were caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

How many IED attacks have occurred in Afghanistan?

According to an article posted on The Washington Post website, from 2004 to February 2010 about 18,319 IED attacks took place in Afghanistan. Such attacks are on the rise in the country since 2008, while, in the same year, Iraq IED attacks started to decrease. Solely between January and February 2010, 721 attacks have already occurred.

The real issue we need to focus on, is not just the deaths in combat, but the numbers of the wounded that needs to be counted when trying to figure out how many veterans will end up needing help for PTSD.

The most common question when veterans are evaluated for disability, addresses anyone they knew killed in action. Too often witnessing wounds are ignored. Imagine seeing someone you were in a vehicle with one moment, having their leg or arm blown off the next. Imagine trying to pull them out of a burning vehicle. Then imagine you were not in the vehicle with them but in the one behind them escaping the blast or in the vehicle in front of them that just missed the bomb. Instead of 10 witnesses, there are twenty, thirty, forty more. Each one having to live with that memory etched in their mind and then, then having to face the fact it could have been them or very well could be them the next time. Then imagine going home, making it back to family and friends, parties and celebrations, while you remember what you just left.

Civilian psychologists use either one out of five or one out of three susceptible to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after traumatic events. There is a clear indication that despite the military's best efforts in preventing PTSD, they are running about the same averages as the rest of the population. Unlike the rest of the population, they are supposed to be "trained" to prevent PTSD and be "resilient" enough to "get over it" instead of being trained to recover from it after the fact.

The attitude of the military has been one of train them to do anything and they will do it when ordered to. This was translated when the troops were under orders to not kill themselves. Yes, that actually happened several times out of frustration because no matter how much money was invested in coming up with programs, the suicide and attempted suicide rate went up instead of down. They should have focused on healing after as soon as possible instead of preventing the inevitable human chain reaction.

If PTSD is already digging into them the added stress of repeated redeployments, which the Army study had shown to increase the risk of PTSD by 50%, not only prolongs the damage done, it adds to it during a time when they could have been healing and recovering. Mild PTSD can often be almost fully reversed but the longer it is allowed to fester the less the chance of reversing it becomes. Vietnam veterans proved this because for far too many, help was not available, the wound was allowed to cut deeper into them as the reality of life back home added to their stressors at the same time they were wondering what the hell was happening to them.

Talk about resilient! These men and women ended up going on to get educations, jobs, start families and take over almost every service organization in the country, but managed to run a lot of companies. All of this without help from the communities they lived in simply because no one had a clue or cared to even learn. Yes, they committed suicide, ended up homeless, some had serial marriages and a long list if failed career moves. Yet at the same time many ended up still wanting to give back and went to work in law enforcement and firefighter jobs. When you consider how long they went from combat to care, it is amazing so many of them are still able to heal even a fraction of their pain, but they are. Many of them have found peace with the fact they will be on medication and in therapy the rest of their lives to remain stabilized but they are living lives again. They don't like the odds of the alternative suffering in silence, too proud to ask for help.

Add into the above how many had to kill in combat. How many will be among the one to have their futures challenged by their past and how many will be suffering instead of healing? How many will become statistics of suffering we study ten or twenty years from now? The best indication of this is the numbers we already have. We know what Vietnam produced and we still see many suffering instead of healing, families still trying to come to grips with what came home with their own veteran, just as we are seeing today in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families after multiple tours of duty and very little support. The National Guards and Reservists forces receive even less support from their communities detached from what they went through and uninterested to learn out of fear they may learn what they do not want to know.

All of this indicates that while the military attempts to produce super Soldiers and Marines untouched, they have failed at the task to provide the best case scenario for the survivors. The numbers we're seeing now are only the beginning because as the operations in Iraq wind down and Afghanistan gears up, the veterans of each will increase as will the price they pay for the "success" of the campaigns. The numbers from Vietnam will be trumped by today's wars. The question is, "Will the survivors win or lose the peace?"

Monday, May 24, 2010

CNN Pays Tribute to Coalition Casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq

There are times when I am absolutely heartbroken by the lack of news coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan. There always seems to be some other story for all the major media stations to jump onto with too little time to remind the American people there are troops risking their lives everyday in Iraq and Afghanistan. What is more heartbreaking is that even when they return home, out of danger from bombs, they are still in danger from bullets but instead of the weapon held in the hands of enemies, the gun is held in their own hand. 18 suicides a day, most committed with guns. The American people are not reminded of the fallen except when a hometown boy or girl comes home for the last time. They are not reminded of the wounded. Most of the time the American people are left on their own to search for news or just get on with their own lives, their own problems, their own families. Few know of the hardships of the families of the military and harder times for the families of National Guards and Reservists.

CNN has done a good job tracking it all. They could have done a better job on the news station itself, but the online work they've done has been outstanding. I search it often because I know it is accurate and very up to date. It looks like CNN has done it again with this site. Take a look at it and remember, just because we are not reminded everyday of the price they pay, they still pay it.

CNN Pays Tribute to Coalition Casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq Wars with Launch of “Home and Away”
Ten-Year Project Culminates in Immersive Online Interactive Memorial and Month-long On-Air Programming Honoring Troops
Continuing to develop innovative ways to present its audience with news and information, CNN is combining the unparalleled strengths of its on-air and online platforms to honor every Coalition Forces casualty in Afghanistan and Iraq. has launched “Home and Away,” an immersive interactive which allows users to learn about and pay tribute to more than 6,000 fallen troops from more than 20 countries. Simultaneously, CNN chief national correspondent John King begins a month-long tribute on his week-nightly 7 p.m. ET program, JohnKing, USA, airing one of the fallen’s personal stories each night. On Memorial Day, a special edition of JohnKing, USA, entitled “Home and Away,” will be dedicated entirely to this subject. Throughout these tributes, King will utilize the Magic Wall to go behind the statistics and provide human faces to the sacrifice.
“Each of these casualties has an inspiring and moving story, and we wanted to find an exceptional way to honor the sacrifice every single one of them made,” said Susan Grant, executive vice president of CNN News Services. “We hope ‘Home and Away’ serves as an enduring memorial for those that made the ultimate sacrifice while also helping the CNN audience more personally connect with this deeply complex topic.”
“We were so moved by the powerful stories of these service members and those who loved them along the way,” said Michelle Jaconi, Executive Producer, John King, USA. “Our colleagues have created a powerful tool that allows us to more deeply engage with our viewers, connecting them to personal tributes from the fallen's family and friends."
Available at this extensive data visualization project began nearly 10 years ago at the start of the war in Afghanistan. A cross-divisional effort between the CNN Library and, a team of researchers, producers, designers, user-experience specialists and developers have gathered information about the casualties of the wars. Evolving from two separate lists of casualties in Afghanistanand Iraq, “Home and Away” tells the story of where and how the lives of these troops began and ended, and is continually enhanced with personal memories from family and friends.
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CNN Pays Tribute to Coalition Casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New policy on brain death has families in mind

New policy on brain death has families in mind

By Gregg Zoroya - USA TODAY
Posted : Monday Mar 22, 2010 21:47:41 EDT

WASHINGTON — Family members of combat troops declared brain-dead will have an opportunity for a final reunion with their loved ones before life support is removed, according to new guidelines provided to battlefield doctors.

The guidelines are aimed at helping doctors determine what to do when a combat casualty suffers brain death, a decision physicians were left to figure out before on a case-by-case basis.

Moving brain-dead troops to more advanced military hospitals, such as those in Europe or the United States, will also make it possible to harvest organs for transplants, the guidelines say.

The recommendations were issued last week by the military’s Joint Theater Trauma System, which provides medical research and guidance for battlefield care.

Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, about 175 troops with catastrophic head injuries have been evacuated from the war zones only to die later of their wounds, says Army Col. Brian Eastridge, director of the Joint Theater Trauma System. Doctors in combat operations are not required to obtain permission from next of kin before removing a brain-dead patient from life support, Eastridge says.

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New policy on brain death has families in mind

Friday, January 1, 2010

No US combat deaths in Iraq in December but three non-combat deaths

One ugly truth about war is that we lose more after it than during it. With all the counts from the Department of Defense and the VA, the truth is that we never really know how many die because of war but are not counted in any of the totals. If they are out of the military, they are not tracked by the DOD. If they are not in the VA system as a veteran, they are not counted when they die either. It's almost as if they fall into a dark hole but their families know who they are, remember them and mourn them.

Zero combat deaths in Iraq for December but three non-combat deaths. This should not be the end of this story.

No U.S. combat-related deaths in Iraq in December
January 1, 2010 3:54 p.m. EST

NEW: Casualties decreasing among Iraqis with civilian death toll at its lowest in November
December is first month with no U.S. combat deaths since war began
"That is a very significant milestone for us," top U.S. commander in Iraq says
4,373 Americans have died in Iraq since start of war

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- December was the first month since the beginning of the Iraq war in which there were no U.S. combat deaths, the U.S. military reported.

There were three noncombat fatalities.

"That is a very significant milestone for us as we continue to move forward, and I think that also speaks to the level of violence and how it has decreased over time," said Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

Since the beginning of the war more than six years ago, 4,373 U.S. military members have died -- 3,477 from hostilities and 898 in non-combat incidents.
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Monday, November 2, 2009

Heart of a Patriot

A veteran's 'Heart': Cleland book covers more than politics
By Press-Register Correspondent
November 01, 2009, 2:01PM
Heart of a Patriot: How I Found the Courage to Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove

By Max Cleland with Ben Raines; Simon and Schuster, $26

Reviewed by SCOTTY E. KIRKLAND/Special to the Press-Register
The intoxicating lure of politics caught Max Cleland at an early age. In 1952, when he was only 10 years old, Cleland watched the televised Democratic National Convention and decided to campaign for Adlai Stevenson. He recruited the girl next door, and the two fashioned signs out of sticks and old pieces of cardboard. As cars drove past, the young politicos would run along side, shouting, “Adlai for President!” Before he even knew what it meant, Max Cleland was a Yellow Dog Democrat.

Cleland’s new book, “Heart of a Patriot,” tells a much more complex story than the typical political autobiography. Co-authored by award-winning Press-Register reporter Ben Raines, it is clearly more than simple campaign literature. “Heart of a Patriot” explores some of the darker periods in the senator’s life, from his near-fatal injuries in Vietnam and his bouts with depression, to the vicious 2002 campaign waged against him in his bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

Max Cleland arrived in Vietnam in June 1967 as a second lieutenant in the First Air Calvary Division, and he was awarded a Bronze and a Silver Star for heroic service and gallantry in combat. In the spring of 1968, shortly after fighting in the battle of Khe Sahn, he was horribly injured, losing both legs and his right arm in a grenade explosion. Cleland recounts the weeks following the accident with vivid detail, including his first meeting with his parents. He spent the next year in Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., recovering from his injuries.

Even though all other veterans from past wars suffered the same kind of
When Georgia native Jimmy Carter was elected president, he named the 34-year-old Cleland head of the Veterans Administration. Cleland brought to his new position a personal knowledge of the needs of returning soldiers. During his four-year tenure at the VA, Cleland lobbied for the expansion of benefits to cover emotional as well as physical trauma.

eternal/internal wound, it took Vietnam veterans like Max Cleland to come home and fight for this wound to be treated. Don't be startled by use of the word "eternal" because it will never be cured, but what is most important is that it can be healed with help. Veterans can find peace with what has been so they can live lives instead of just existing in a body and suffering. They were the first to fight for this, but the last to be acknowledged for it.

Cleland writes frankly about his experiences following his defeat. He sank into a deep depression that only worsened with the beginning of the Iraq War in April 2003. The war brought back painful memories for Cleland and, for the first time, he sought the assistance of professional counselors. Ironically, such help might have been unavailable if he had not lobbied to expand the VA’s counseling program in the late 1970s. Now he benefited from the very program he had helped create.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Afghan war's deadliest month takes heavy toll at Fort Lewis

While we grieve for the loss of life we must never forget that the men and women they served with have just lost a part of their family as well. The memories of the fallen will never leave them. Not the memories of their smiles and time shared together, good times as well as bad ones. Not the memories of how they died and that they are no longer there. These "are the times that try man's soul" and they should be afforded every opportunity to grieve the loss that time and events will allow.

The most troubling thing to think about is that while there is a shortage of military chaplains for them to talk to, there are some chaplains without full knowledge of what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is. There are too few mental health workers for the soldiers to talk to and without the chaplains knowing what is going on, it makes it all the more harder to heal. We then end up counting the dead but forget the living and how much this touches their lives. If we think for a second we have seen the worst numbers of PTSD veterans, we are not even close to what is to come.

Afghan war's deadliest month takes heavy toll at Fort Lewis
This month has been the deadliest for U.S. troops since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, and Fort Lewis has been hit particularly hard, with 10 soldiers killed.

By Nick Perry

Seattle Times staff reporter

A Renton man, who did not wish to be identified, carries an American flag at half staff over the Freedom Bridge, which crosses Interstate 5 to Fort Lewis.

Fort Lewis soldier Sgt. Leslie Hill said he's attended two memorial services in recent weeks and plans to be at another Tuesday as he and others on the post come to terms with losing 26 soldiers in Afghanistan in less than three months.

"I just lost one of my buddies," Hill said. "It's been rough on everyone."

This month has been the deadliest for U.S. troops since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001. Fort Lewis has been hit particularly hard. The post held a private candlelight vigil Thursday night for the families, friends and battalion members of the eight Fort Lewis soldiers killed Tuesday.

Seven were killed when enemy forces in the Arghandab Valley attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device. The soldiers, whose names were released by the Department of Defense on Thursday, came from across the country and were 22 to 29 years old.
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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Casualties of war: a soldier writes

Casualties of war: a soldier writes

By Mark Dryden
Sunday, 9 November 2008
On Remembrance Sunday we pause to think of those who have perished in conflicts but for every lost soldier, countless others are left with physical and mental scars.
On 20 November 2005 Sergeant John Jones, 32, of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was killed in a roadside bomb in Basra, Iraq, in which Lance Corporal Mark Dryden lost an arm. L/Cpl Dryden, a self confessed “class clown” who joined the army at 17 without any qualifications, has since left and is now working towards a degree. Currently volunteering as a junior football team coach, he hopes to get a job as a physical education teacher. In this, his first ever essay for his new college, he recounts the day he lost his friend.

It’s been an hour. The streets are very quiet. Something is just not right. It feels hostile as if something is going to happen. We stop next to a local shop; we have spoken to the shopkeeper once before. He was very nice and talkative, but this time he won’t talk to Captain Fields.

I say to John, "This is pointless no one is gonna talk to a female officer."

John agrees. We drive away.

I tell John, "I don’t think we will get much out of this patrol as we have a female interpreter."

John has always trusted my judgement as I’m third in charge. We had a good rapport with the local shopkeepers; some have told us that it’s the Afghans and the Iranians that are bombing the city. Something still doesn’t feel right. I’m not scared, I’m quite happy as we are going to get back in early.
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