Contents: The Sir! No Sir! blog is an information clearing house, drawing on a wide variety of sources, to track the unfolding history of the new GI Movement, and the wars that brought the movement to life.
Where applicable, parallels will be drawn between the new movement and the Vietnam era movement which was the focus of the film Sir! No Sir!
Disclaimer: In accordance with title 17 u.s.c. section 107, this material is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.
The Sir! No Sir! Blog has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is the Sir! No Sir! Blog endorsed or sponsored by the originator. Links are provided to allow for verification of authenticity.
This video is a mix of the Army Strong video produced by the army to entice young women and men to join the military. The other video is produced by Displaced Films which is a series of films produced for the Iraq Veterans Against the War http://ivaw.org/wintersoldier
The series of films can also be seen here http://www.vimeo.com/5448532
You can make a donation to Jeriko Films here http://jerikofilms.wordpress.com/about/
The military has a budget of $459 million in advertising revenue which is the amount it spent in 2005. Please help us provide an honest picture of war by making a donation. Here is further information from, David Zeiger who requested we include the following information.
Hello Cindy and All
I am so happy that you used episodes from our series, This is Where We Take Our Stand, for your Army Strong video. It's incredibly powerful, and getting out to a lot of people. You did a great thing with it, and this is what the series is for.
I have a very important request, though. Please make it much more clear on your site and in the piece that the material is from the web series This is Where We Take Our Stand, and that the entire series can and should be seen at http://thisiswherewetakeourstand.com/ There are still two episodes that will be posted this monday and in two weeks, and then the entire series will be available as a single piece as well.
First of all, it's important that people see the whole series. But along with that, it's been a tremendous struggle to get the story made and told, and we are still in the midst of trying to get the funds to complete a television film as well. So it is crucial that both the name of the series and the people who made it be very prominent whenever it is used. It's also important to include that it is from the people who made Sir! No Sir! I'm sure you understand all of this.
We are linking Army Strong to http://thisiswherewetakeourstand.com/, and will do what we can to help get it out there.
This article, by Kevin Dougherty, was published in Stars and Stripes, August 23, 2009/p>
With the U.S. military presence in Iraq expected to end by 2011, an organization of current and former servicemembers opposed to the war there is widening its mandate to include Afghanistan.
At its annual convention in College Park, Md., earlier this month, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War vigorously debated what the group’s stance should be on Afghanistan, according to some participants. Opposition to the war quietly became official policy earlier this year following an online membership poll. The vote was said to be close, though no details were publicly released.
"A decision has been made in terms of our position, which is we are against it," said Jose Vasquez, executive director of IVAW and co-founder of the New York City chapter.
With that, leaders are "working out the way forward."
Since its founding in 2004, the IVAW has focused almost exclusively on Iraq, though members have been free to speak out for or against the war in Afghanistan. The organization, which has a national office in Philadelphia, estimates its membership to be at least 1,700, with roughly one-quarter of its members still in uniform. Most members, active duty or not, have not deployed to Afghanistan, said Devon Read, a former Marine who wrote and introduced the resolution at the convention.
As is the case with Iraq, the existing IVAW resolution advocates "the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all occupying forces in Afghanistan and reparations for the Afghan people, and support (for) all troops and veterans working toward those ends."
Additionally, the IVAW supports full benefits and adequate health care for all servicemembers returning from Afghanistan or Iraq.
For now, the effort to develop a strategic approach to opposing the war in Afghanistan is being addressed at the local level. Among the most active on this front is the Los Angeles chapter, which Read heads. The L.A. chapter sponsors forums at which clips of a new documentary, "Rethink Afghanistan," are aired and discussed.
The meetings are intended to generate public and political support for IVAW’s position, which is that the continued presence of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is hurting, not helping matters.
"Chapters are trying to figure out where they want to go with this," Vasquez said. He added that IVAW members "don’t think Iraq was a good idea, and some of us think Afghanistan isn’t either."
One of the members who supports the war in Afghanistan is Army Sgt. Selena Coppa, an active-duty military intelligence specialist based at Wiesbaden, Germany.
"The organization is kind of split on that," Coppa said.
At times, she added, the issue of whether to oppose the war in Afghanistan "ran the risk of tearing us apart. IVAW is like a family. You don’t want members leaving."
Vasquez said many members, such as Coppa, "view Afghanistan as the good war," based largely on its role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. The notion of also opposing that war "met with a lot of debate," he said.
The strategy for the time being is to leave the issue to local chapters to sort out, and then possibly bring it up at next year’s convention. While there has been talk of amending the organization’s name to reflect its opposition to the Afghanistan campaign, that isn’t likely to happen soon.
Read, who initially backed the war in Afghanistan, characterized his endorsement as "blind support," a view that has changed over the past year.
"To me," Read said, "it feels like we are creating more enemies."
You are now watching: Episode Three: Why We Fight
Flashback to January, three months before Winter Soldier. How do you bring hundreds of veterans to Washington DC, to tell their stories? An IVAW national planning meeting reveals sharp differences among the members. Is the point of Winter Soldier to show how these wars are hurting America, or the destruction America is bringing to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan? Is the goal to strengthen the military, or weaken it? Despite the differences, a deep unity is built because, as Geoff Millard declares, the bottom line is “No one can hear our stories and still support this shit.”
This article, by Maya Schenwar, was posted toTruthOut, July 16, 2009.
Neglect, mistreatment and abuse are the norm for active-duty soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have thrown post-traumatic stress disorder into stark public light. As of the end of March, 346,393 US veterans were being treated for PTSD; 115,000 of those served in Iraq or Afghanistan. That number continues to grow rapidly.
However, PTSD symptoms don't always wait to emerge until soldiers return home. For active-duty soldiers like Airman Steven Flowers, stationed in Aviano, Italy, it can take years to receive even minimal care. And once treatment begins, the soldiers are often punished for revealing their problems.
Diagnosed with PTSD in 2007, Flowers receives only a 15-minute monthly session with a military psychiatrist - mostly to prescribe medications - and a brief monthly or bimonthly session with a psychologist. Since his diagnosis, Flowers has endured "constant harassment" within his unit, and incurs harsh punishment from his commanders for even the "slightest perceived inadequacies."
"Though I have had suicidal ideations, I am not considered a risk," Flowers told Truthout.
Flowers's case is not unique. Active-duty PTSD sufferers are subject to neglect and ridicule, according to Tim Huber, director of the Military Counseling Network.
"PTSD is a great scapegoat for the military to trot out when veterans face discrimination or have a difficult time securing jobs and making a new life in the civilian world, but while those troops are on active duty, they're supposed to simply 'soldier on' and get over it," Huber told Truthout.
This mentality leads many soldiers to conceal their symptoms for years. It also means that military leaders are resistant to signs of PTSD in the ranks. In fact, Huber considers Flowers's case lucky.
"I am actually impressed Flowers was able to receive a PTSD diagnosis," Huber said. "We work with many service members who can't even get that much recognition, and are instead simply criticized for being soft, and/or trying to get out."
The trend toward disregarding or silencing PTSD sufferers even extends to military psychiatrists, according to Chris Capps-Schubert, the Europe coordinator for Iraq Veterans Against the War, who is following Flowers's situation closely.
"In the summary of Flowers's case, his military psychologist said it's a difficult position for him as a doctor, because he has conflicting interests in his role as a medical provider and his role as a soldier," Capps-Schubert told Truthout.
Flowers was experiencing PTSD symptoms well before 2007, but says he was afraid of the consequences of seeking help.
Many soldiers suffer for long periods before coming forward with their symptoms; others speak out about their condition but are denied treatment.
Army Sgt. Selena Coppa was recently diagnosed with military sexual trauma, a form of PTSD resulting from sexual harassment, assault or rape, years after her symptoms began.
"I think that the lack of initial treatment has severely impacted my life," Coppa, who served in Iraq and is now stationed in Germany, told Truthout. "I was told by my therapist that my PTSD had gone from simple to complex as a result of the military environment and lack of real treatment. Military practitioners tend to be extremely unwilling to diagnose PTSD in active-duty soldiers, and thus make it more difficult for individuals to have access to treatment and care." Retention at All Costs Both Flowers and Coppa protested the military's neglect of their problems, but found little recourse for their grievances.
"I complained about what I felt was inadequate treatment, but was told there was simply no better treatment to offer me outside of the States, and they would not consider transferring me to the better treatment until I had already 'run the full course' with the less-effective treatment," Coppa said.
The military's reluctance to diagnose or treat PTSD is linked to its primary goal: retaining soldiers on the ground. Even if a soldier is only marginally able to perform, military authorities may make a strategic decision to delay diagnosis and treatment, which could lead to a discharge.
"For Flowers to be discharge-worthy, the military must feel it is better off without him," Huber said. "But there's a wrinkle. The military has to cultivate a culture of commitment. If it were easy to skip the enlistment contract and get out early, retention would plummet and America's ability to maintain the military status quo would vanish. That's why so many squeaky wheels don't get greased, and eventually crack and crumble.... I guess one could say brute retention is more important than mission readiness."
Soldiers diagnosed with psychological disorders may be reassigned to alternate duties, in place of receiving adequate treatment or a discharge. Flowers, for example, is now relegated to "meter maid" duty. He walks the Air Force base looking for parking violations, though he suffers from serious knee and back problems.
By the end of his daily nine-hour shift, he is in excruciating pain.
Coppa, who is now stationed in Germany, notes that her treatment - or lack thereof - was determined almost solely based on the "wishes of the command," not on her medical needs. Even after her diagnosis was recognized, she repeatedly met with resistance and indifference.
She also discovered that the military has startlingly few resources to deal with military sexual trauma.
"There are no domestic violence groups here in Germany, and no military sexual trauma groups," Coppa said. "They are ill-equipped to treat this form of PTSD in anything but a solo setting, which is not as helpful. Though they acknowledged I would benefit medically from a transfer to the States, one was refused."
Coppa's experience is widespread: support groups and alternative treatments are very rare. Typically, PTSD-diagnosed soldiers are prescribed medication at the outset, often with little explanation or accompanying talk therapy.
Drugs are seen as the quickest, most efficient route to retaining a soldier on duty, regardless of the consequences, according to Huber.
"The main strategy is to prescribe the problems away with pills, and as long as someone can remain upright under their own power and perform the base elements of their MOS [military occupation specialty], the military is adequately 'treating' the problem," Huber said. "If someone refuses to medicate, for fear of what they might do with live ammunition under the influence of three, four, five or more mind-altering drugs, they are simply written off as refusing the military's 'help' and not wanting to get better."
Recently, after a long fight, Steven Flowers was able to form a support group for PTSD sufferers in his unit. The group was created against the wishes of the military mental health staff, and Flowers's psychiatrist initially refused to consider the idea. Such groups are almost unheard of for soldiers on active duty.
For many service members with PTSD, the best they can hope for is the strength and luck to hold out until they return home.
"The help can be a little better after people get out and start seeing civilian psychologists, who care more about the individual then retaining a soldier who fills a slot in a unit," Capps-Schubert said.
I will warn to anyone reading this post that I'm currently operating in a white-hot frothing rage. I will also point out for new readers that as a domestic violence survivor and personal assault survivor, my biases are probably almost definitely in play.
That careful diplomatic statement said, allow me to say,
What happened to that whole "We're protecting women's rights in Afghanistan" thing?|
The Guardian has the story: "Worse than the Taliban? New Law Rolls Back Rights for Afghan Women" Marital rape legalized, unless you have a "good excuse, like being sick or something"?
You want to hear a good 'excuse'? It's called "I don't want to have sex with you". That's all the 'excuse' anyone should need. It's called consent. Marrying someone doesn't give it up. Nothing can give it up. That's the biggest violation I can possibly imagine. And yes, I have a personal stake in this, because that's what my command said to me the first time I went to them for help [Editor's note: not my current command], that you can't get abused like that by your husband.
This entire law is nothing but a careful veneer of civility on domestic violence. Like just because you marry someone ,they have a right to abuse you. They have a right to beat you. They have a right to take your money away. They have a right to force you not to leave the house. To /ask permission before you see the fucking doctor/, for god's sake. They have a right to rape you. If you didn't want it, you shouldn't have gotten married. Oh, and those kids? You can't get custody of them. Have fun waving goodbye to any human rights they'll have as you realize there is no escape.
And this is the Afghan government we support? The one we say is going to be the savior of human rights and women's rights? What the fuck have we accomplished? I understand not intervening in other governments and interrupting sovereignity, but this is OUR PUPPET GOVERNMENT! I mean, I don't support sock puppet governments, but if we're going to have one, if we're going to prop up Karzai on his tottering political legs, can we at least get some use out of his yes-man status to avoid crap like this? This is so vile, so utterly vile, I can't even comment on it civilly at the moment. Maybe later I'll work up something reasonable and rational for Military Pundits, I'm not going to rant quite this much at 1SG Grisham's "house". But can anyone view this without anger? Seriously?
This article, by the wonderful Army Sergeant/Selena Coppa, was originally posted on the IVAW website, July 3, 2008
"Gentlemen cry peace, peace, but there is no peace, the war is already begun!" -Patrick Henry, 1775
July Fourth is coming. I know that to a lot of people, Americans, all it means is fireworks in a night sky, barbecues and roasting meat, hot summer days and cool beers. For too many people it's just a holiday, an extra day off from work where they get to wear red, white, and blue. If they are feeling particularly patriotic, they may whisper to their children, "This is the day America became free."
I don't wear red, white and blue, and I don't wave paper flags. Sometimes I don't even have a celebration. The Founding Fathers certainly had no celebration, tucked away as they were, rebelling from a distance, the certain underdog against England's might. No, how I choose to commemorate July Fourth is by recommitting myself to living by the ideals which were blazed that day.
I think of a handful of men, who gathered together despite a repressive occupation, who joined their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor" to combat injustice. Men who decided that it was intolerable to accept abuses without standing up against them.
Men who dared.
Men who lost everything, in many cases up to and including their lives, that a nation might be born which would live for a thousand years in freedom and justice.
I think back to those bold men, whose deeds blazed across the sky. I think of how I can possibly live up to what they asked of themselves, to what they asked to those who might follow in their footsteps. To the dreams they held and battled the darkness for.
And I remember what I am.
I am an active duty soldier, who sees a duty to the country I love, the country birthed so many years ago to be a just and righteous nation, where each and every citizen would have the right to petition for redress of grievances, and to print whatever they pleased about their government. I see a duty to all those who have died for these ideals - everyone whose red blood was shed to give our flag its color, who dreamed that generation after generation, patriots would always stand ready to answer America's call.
What a low, shivering thing would I be, if I saw the truth, that America is wasting its soldiers, breaking its military, and destroying its economy, all in the name of the interests of a few, and I did not stand up! If I did not stand up for fear, or a wish to preserve my comfort. If I did not stand up for fear of reprisal, or imprisonment-how those Founding Fathers would be ashamed!
I would like to think that if they saw me here, now, along with the ranks of the rest of our active duty soldiers who are standing up against this injustice, they would be proud. Would be proud of the spirit that still stands strong in America. Why stand the rest of you silent? The war is already begun! Not just the war in Iraq, but the war here at home, to wake a complacent citizenry to action! The time for sitting at home and thinking hopeful thoughts is over! This July Fourth, and every day until the troops are home and treated like the country which has used the best and brightest in them owes, I swear to act!
Join with me. Join with us. We, the active duty IVAW members, and even those who are against the war but do not yet know they can be with us, are waiting.
Sergeant Selena Coppa
US Veterans Urge Soldiers to Speak Out Against Iraq War
Published on Friday, March 14, 2008 by Agence France Presse
WASHINGTON - US veterans and active-duty soldiers on Thursday kicked off an event in Washington to protest the war in Iraq, urging other members of the military to join them in speaking out against the conflict.
“There’s an upswell of disgust and disapproval for the Iraq war in the military,” intelligence sergeant Selena Coppa told AFP at the launch of the four-day “Winter Soldier” event.
“The difficulty is letting them realize they are legally entitled to speak out about it, other than to service members,” added Coppa, who is still on active duty in the US army.
Camilo Mejia, the first conscientious objector to the Iraq war, went a step further.
“I want our servicemen and women to know that standing up to an immoral occupation is not only their right but also their duty to their country and humanity,” he told reporters.
“My first mission in Iraq was to run a prisoner of war camp where we used sensory and sleep deprivation techniques prior to interrogation,” he recounted at the opening news conference, which was heavy with foreign correspondents but light on US media.
Mejia was court martialled for refusing to redeploy to his unit after two weeks’ leave, and spent nine months in a military jail.
Now the chairman of the board of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), which has organized the four-day gathering, Mejia spoke of a groundswell of resistance within the US military to the war in Iraq, which will enter its sixth year later this month.
“Servicemen and women are refusing en masse to participate in this war. I have seen a rapid and inevitable growth of dissent within our ranks,” he said.
At the “Winter Soldier” event in Washington, some 200 soldiers like Coppa and Mejia will give eye-witness testimonies about what they lived through during their deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and afterwards.
The event is organized by IVAW, a grouping of around 800 military veterans and active soldiers opposed to the occupation of Iraq.
Vietnam veterans held a “Winter Soldier” event in 1971 at which more than 100 servicemen and 16 civilians described atrocities committed against innocent civilians in South Vietnam.
The name “Winter Soldier” is derived from the “summer soldier” described by American Revolutionary War writer Thomas Paine in “The Crisis:”
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman,” Paine wrote in the 18th century work
The last blog entry published here reproduced Denis Keohane's "A Vietnam Vet Replies to IVAW' video". This was followed by a robust discussion between the active duty/IVAW blogger Army Sergeant, Denis Keohane and a number of his regular readers. Here is that discussion:
Discussion about "A Vietnam Vet Replies to IVAW's Video" Obiter Dictum, Monday, February 24, 2008
February 24, 2008 3:40 PM - Army Sergeant said... I respect Mr. Boyle's service, and I would address him by rank had you included it here, but I do not see it, which is my only reason for addressing him with a (respected) civilian honorific.
I understand that he also is angry at the Winter Soldier which took place previously, and that his anger touches his words.
But I think that his anger also colours his opinion as well. He assumes the photos are being used to show atrocities for no real reason, unrelated to the witnesses. This is incorrect. The reason these photos are included is that these are photos which were taken of and by the units those individuals served with. They were their personal pictures, and they were included to show the war as seen through these individual's eyes. That is why positive as well as negative images were included. The pictures illustrate what those units saw-and saw well enough to photograph.
I am also saddened that Mr. Boyle assumes that soldiers and marines who are saddened by their experiences show 'forced angst'. I have been beside some of my fellows as they were racked with nightmares. I have taken the phone calls in the middle of the night. This is experience common to both IVAW members and non-IVAW members.
As a currently serving soldier, I see both sides, and the emotion from both sides, and I can say with certainty that the only difference between the words my fellow IVAW members said in the preview and words my fellow currently serving soldiers say among our brother soldiers is that one has a video and one does not.
I have sat in a room holding a friend of mine who was racked with sobs, because he was forced to kill a child. It was not an atrocity. The child had a weapon and was pointing it towards my friend. He did not know if the child would have fired or not. In his judgement, he could not afford to wait. Were his tears therapeutic narcissism? Was he any less a man because he shed them? I say no. He's not an IVAW member, my friend. He may never be. I don't know-I lost touch with him, and I haven't seen him again since we changed units. Nor do I care. Because he is no less my brother if he does support the war, and no more my brother if he does not. Nor are his tears and his pain any less real, no matter his political stance.
I respect Mr. Boyle's service, but I resent that assumption. I resent and am angered by the assumption that those who do not agree with him, those who, due to what they have seen through their own eyes happen to be against the war, are forcing pain and grief. No one forces pain. No one forces grief. I think my friends who made the video would far prefer to sleep easy of a night.
I'm glad that Mr. Boyle's medical unit was able to always give good service to those who required it-but such is not always the case. A chief warrant officer wrote in to the Army Times recently about being ordered not to medevac wounded because they might have taken fire in the doing so. That they were ordered not to risk their lives, even though their wish was to do exactly that.
Mr. Boyle's experience is not everyone's. It is not Jason Washburn's, or Steve Mortillo's. It is not Logan Laituri's.
All anyone can do is speak about what they see, what they feel. I cannot comment on Mr. Boyle's combat service, because I was not there and did not see. I do not understand why he feels he can comment on theirs. These men love their service. They love their country. They did good work. But they cannot support this war-and to see them mislabeled as engaging in 'therapeutic narcissism' wounds me. It wounds me deeply-and it does make me wonder if some gaps, after all, are too deep to heal. But perhaps, not the ones you were trying to show. February 24, 2008 3:46 PM - Army Sergeant said... I've got more on this, but I realized it's getting long-I'll post on my own blog a bit, later. February 24, 2008 5:01 PM - Denis Keohane said... Sarge, I believe you are missing some things. As you write “I understand that he also is angry at the Winter Soldier which took place previously, and that his anger touches his words”, it is long past time that you and IVAW simply acknowedge that it is you who have intentionally made and pounded in the connection! You have named the event precisely after the 1971 charade. IVAW’s own statements have linked them, repeatedly. Other sitesm like those of the VVAW and VFP and a host of IVAW supporting sites have done the same.
I watched the video, Sarge, and as most such are, it is themeatic. The same inmage can be shown in one way and then another, and because of how it is presented can carry a very different message. The old adage that pictures don’t lie was never correct. In video especially, what surrounds the image gives it context.
As to soldiers bearing scars and shedding tears at the things they have had to do and experienced, no one argues that such is not real or somehow diminishes the soldier. Yet IVAW, as an activist organization, has always sought to use such for political purpose, and the concern for the soldier from the organization on the whole is secondary at best. I know that will get a rise out of you, but the simple truth is shown in what you and I discussed here when we first met: IVAW only talks about atrocities, policies that lead to tragedy, and bad behavior when they can pin it on “our side”! If IVAW and you care about a soldier who has had his heart and soul torn because he killed a child carrying a gun, it is long past time that IVAW points some kind of anger and questioning at those who so put children in that position – the enemy!
“A chief warrant officer wrote in to the Army Times recently about being ordered not to medevac wounded because they might have taken fire in the doing so. That they were ordered not to risk their lives, even though their wish was to do exactly that.”
Sorry, Sarge, but you are apple and oranging! If this was a warrant officer, there was a chopper involved. It has been the case that choppers have had to be warned away from overly hot LZ’s because of the danger to the crew and the wounded they may actually get on the chopper. That does not compare to the story told in the video of an IVAW member saying medics would not treat an injured soldier triaged out of treatment. February 24, 2008 5:15 PM - NAMedic said...If you think IVAW is about your emotional trauma and they are going to honestly portray anything at this kangaroo court of theirs, then you are too naive to discuss this with - either that or your oozing soft sell here is a ploy to disarm those who can see through this whole political charade.
I've lived through this - and with this - before. Your mentors in VVAW played all these games before on the entire nation - all except the oh-so-victimized-I'm-so-gentled-out-now-you-be-nice-too peacenik gambit. That's new.
You can forget about using that one on me.
The last time this was done to Americans, by Americans, in America, in 1971 by the VVAW, an entire generation of veterans wound up dishonored, marginalized, delegitimized and shamed.The only way you could get straight with your countrymen was to turn on you comrades-in-arms, by doing something like joining VVAW. Fortunately, the vast majority of us stayed loyal to each other and waited for our countrymen to wake up to what had been pulled on them. We had to wait a long time. And it was all based on a lie. A propaganda campaign.
This is what you are involved in and what you defend here. If you have any honor or decency at all, get the hell out of it while you can. You say I "assume(s)" the photos are being used to show atrocities for no real reason . . ." Is that so? Pray do tell?
Which "atrocities" exactly do these picture show? Where? Committed by whom? When? Is that what they are? Is a guy in a suicide bomber vest with his head blown off the victim of an American atrocity? Is the Blackwater contractor burned to a crisp and about to be hung from a bridge the victim of an American atrocity?
Aside from the political dishonesty here, stringing a bunch of pictures together with no comment, no context, no nothing, is just a transparenmt manipulation of the audience, just from the standpoint of artistic criticism; forget about the politics. Fortunately for propagandists, it is a method that works on a lot of people who should be smarter.
If you are opposed to all war, fine. That's you're right. If you are opposed to this war, fine. That's your right. If you are, and you are still on active duty, you better apply for CO status before you wind up deployed and in an ethical dilemma you cannot resolve. That or get a discharge. I'm sure they will give you a good one if you are honest about your beliefs and inner conflicts.
But do not dare, do not ever again dare, to implicate American soldiers, and even worse ALL American soldiers, in criminal wartime actions unless you know what you say is true. Every word of it. Do not dare put the reputations and honor of American service members in the cross-hairs of your political agenda.
This entire fiasco is a nauseating and infuriating deja vu for millions of Vietnam veterans and millions of others who lived through the 1970's, and fortunately many of the latter have since woken up.
You and your cohorts are not going to pass off your mush-headed Marxist reducated pity-pot party/slasher flick on us. It is not going to wash. If you had any real interest in truth and reality, you'd be digging into who and what is on the other end of your puppet strings at IVAW. The old guys especially.
Since you asked, I was a SP 5 (E-5) after 17 months in the Army. All of my active duty except training and leave was served honorably in Vietnam. I have no regrets and would do it all again. And the vast majority of Vietnam vets have said the same.
All except the homecoming part; that carries regrets, and reasons. That's why I'm here on this site. February 24, 2008 5:41 PM - Army Sergeant said...As to soldiers bearing scars and shedding tears at the things they have had to do and experienced, no one argues that such is not real or somehow diminishes the soldier.
You're wrong. I wish to God that you weren't wrong, but you are wrong there. You may not, and I applaud if you do not, but I have seen far too many postings, heard far too many interviews or talking heads, where that very point is in fact argued-which is in a way one reason I got so angry-it ties into an existing pain that I feel seeing that type of stuff, because it does occur so often.
Yet IVAW, as an activist organization, has always sought to use such for political purpose, and the concern for the soldier from the organization on the whole is secondary at best.
Again, you're wrong. Our first and primary concern is the mental health of the individual. You may not see it, because it doesn't make the news, but we have a large number of mental health professionals on standby, and a lot of our members have volunteered themselves as peer counselors, day or night, to those who need it. I personally have counseled members not to speak publicly or get more involved when I did not think they were ready for it and I thought it would be more damaging for them. So yes, that does get a rise out of me-because I personally can attest to that not happening.
I know that will get a rise out of you, but the simple truth is shown in what you and I discussed here when we first met: IVAW only talks about atrocities, policies that lead to tragedy, and bad behavior when they can pin it on “our side”!
That is far from simple, and it is far from the truth. I think that you spend more time on 'atrocities' than IVAW-it's really not what Winter Soldier is about, and it's not what we as an organization are about. It's simply what you choose to focus on. You are speaking for 'your side', and it is a side which has chosen to condemn Winter Soldier, so you do not speak about the positive things IVAW has done. You choose which side of the facts you plan to portray, and give evidence which speaks to that. You don't speak about the extensive mental health support IVAW provides, nor do you speak about the IVAW members who speak and served with integrity and honor. When pressed, you admit their existence generally, but you don't talk much about them otherwise. What simple truth is shown there?
If IVAW and you care about a soldier who has had his heart and soul torn because he killed a child carrying a gun, it is long past time that IVAW points some kind of anger and questioning at those who so put children in that position – the enemy!
I'll note that this incident was long before I joined IVAW, so really, it's about me personally caring about that. We often, and I'll go into this more on my own blog, put soldiers in terrible positions to make terrible choices. This is what war is-whether just or unjust, war is a terrible thing. It is an evil-sometimes a necessary evil, but an evil all the same. The child had a gun-neither that soldier or I will ever know why. She might have picked it up. She might have been playing. She might have been training as a youth insurgent. She might have been terrified at seeing soldiers. No one will ever know. I cannot blame that on anyone. Children have been shot right here in the United States by police officers who didn't know they were holding a watergun-that's why you can't get them in black anymore.
If this was a warrant officer, there was a chopper involved. It has been the case that choppers have had to be warned away from overly hot LZ’s because of the danger to the crew and the wounded they may actually get on the chopper.
Yes, it was a chopper-but the warrant officer and his crew were willing to take the risk. They were not allowed. My point was to illustrate that sometimes, the medics may want like hell to sacrifice themselves, but they are not permitted to. February 24, 2008 5:52 PM - Army Sergeant said... Which "atrocities" exactly do these picture show? Where? Committed by whom? When? Is that what they are? Is a guy in a suicide bomber vest with his head blown off the victim of an American atrocity? Is the Blackwater contractor burned to a crisp and about to be hung from a bridge the victim of an American atrocity?
As you'll see in my response to Denis, I'm not arguing that they show American atrocity. I'm not against the war because I think Americans commit atrocity. I am against the war because I believe it is hurting America and the Army I love, and that we entered into it under false pretenses. I think those pictures were chosen because they are pictures taken by the soldiers and marine in the video, and their units. If I saw someone in a suicide vest about to blow people up, I would shoot him too, and only hope my aim would be good enough for a headshot before he triggered it. This is why I could never be a CO.
If you are opposed to all war, fine. That's you're right. If you are opposed to this war, fine. That's your right. If you are, and you are still on active duty, you better apply for CO status before you wind up deployed and in an ethical dilemma you cannot resolve. That or get a discharge. I'm sure they will give you a good one if you are honest about your beliefs and inner conflicts.
I am opposed to the Iraq War. I think all war is evil, but that it is occasionally a necessary evil. As such, I do not fall under the definition of a conscientious objector, because I believe war can on occasion be necessary. See my commentary on the headshot above. However, I do not see and have not seen an ethical dilemma in my conduct: whether I agree with the war or not, my actions help save American lives, and that is something I can support wholeheartedly.
But do not dare, do not ever again dare, to implicate American soldiers, and even worse ALL American soldiers, in criminal wartime actions unless you know what you say is true. Every word of it. Do not dare put the reputations and honor of American service members in the cross-hairs of your political agenda.
When have I ever done so? I ask you to point me to any statement I have ever made about that? I do not think that criminal wartime actions are a matter of course. I think that they occur-yes, certainly they occur. Sometimes soldiers don't know what they're doing is criminal. Sometimes they know it's criminal, but they do it anyway because they think it saves lives. Sometimes they aren't trained well enough.
Many times actions which are not criminal occur. Many and I believe most Americans serve with honor and distinction. I think that the current lowering of standards and moral waivers allowed into the Army does cause more problems and crimes to occur than might otherwise, but I think that the vast majority of the American soldiers are good, honest, law-abiding citizens.
Why would I want to attack American honor? I believe in American honor, I volunteered to put my life on the line for American honor. That is why to me it is the most crucial thing in the world that we uphold the ideals that the flag I believe in has always stood for. That we uphold the ideals of the flag to which I stood up and said my first oath to, my successive oaths to. That flag which will cover my coffin and be presented to my family when I am eventually killed, with the thanks of a grateful nation. America is a good and great country, and we need to keep it that way. February 24, 2008 6:10 PM - Denis Keohane said... "You may not see it, because it doesn't make the news, but we have a large number of mental health professionals on standby, and a lot of our members have volunteered themselves as peer counselors, day or night, to those who need it."
Sarge, I have been following what IVAW has put out in the "news" and especially in the outlets they chose for months and going back years! If you are trying to tell me that the primary activist concern, even to the political "use" of soldiers experiencing problems, is not both political and to make the U.S. the bad actor, you have a mighty large mountain of contrary evidence to overcome!!!!
You may need, Sarge, to have your bubble burst about what the organization you belong to is really about, and what serves as window dressing. Again, it is not me nor anyone outside of IVAW who made and makes the direct connection to the 1971 WSI! It was not the oppoments of IVAW but its friends and allies who have adverised incessantly about atrocities.
The IVAW "care" for the soldier mimics that expressed by VVAW after they smeared them in the millions! The "troubled vet" was and is a prop, one used by the political manipulators staying in the dark.
The VVAW were all about, for example, outrage over the supposed "murder" of over 200,000 Vietnamese a year by the U.S. (Kerry's words). When Soutyh Vietnam fell, and the real slaughter began in SE Asia, VVAW said not a peep. There is supposed concern now about Iraqi and Afghan civilians, but if we leave and those places descend to slaughter pits, IVAW will likewise not utter a word of protest!
IVAW is seeing the soldiers as victims. If those who are behind this get the victory they want, meaning our loss, they will forget those soldier victims just as they will the Iraqi and Afghans.
IVAW is comprised of two types of people, Sarge. Those being used, and users. February 24, 2008 6:22 PM - Zero Ponsdorf said... Decidedly the oddest exchange I've seen. I everyone here speaking English? "Our first and primary concern is the mental health of the individual." What individual are you referring to?
This is a straw man justification. The IVAW is chewing through the lives and souls of thousands of older Vets as if they are of no consequence. Doesn't the simple fact that some of us old farts are disturbed have an impact?
I do respect you, and your opinion, but your effort is simply old hat. You can not cite anything new. You should really look at the history of PTSD, et. al.
If Iraq is your primary interest don't pretend that war veterans are. Just stick to the Iraq issue. February 24, 2008 7:36 PM - NAMedic said... army sergeant, If you don't want to attack American honor, what are you doing in IVAW? This is not about what *you* are saying or not saying. It is about what the IVAW is very clearly saying and doing. Your position seems to be that it doesn't matter what the IVAW publishes, posts, states explicitly or imples, since you are not saying, or never have said, or implied the same things they do. Yet you support them wholeheartedly. So what are you doing in an organization you don't agree with?
This does not sound like a rational position to me. It sounds like a psychiatric problem beyond my qualifications to define, beyond "denial." That is the charitable possibility. The other possibility is you are so deep into intellectual dishonesty you are not even aware that's where you are. You're the one who referred to the pictures in the IVAW video as "atrocities," which is exactly the impression the video tries to create. You accepted that was their intended mesaning by your own statement. The video didn't offer any explicit definition of the images at all. You did.
The IVAW, just like the VVAW, is not interested in you, and I have a surprise for you. They are not much interested in the war either. The war simply provides a very convenient pretext for bringing the United States into moral disrepute all over the world, but most especially at home. That's the game, and the only game. Exploiting the emotional and psychic trauma of combat vets, not healing it, is their stock in trade. So what if they are further traumatized by all this? So what if all of them, their whole generation, is trashed by a national backlash of disgust at the "revelations" patriotically manufactured by the suffering vets' "best friend" organization. A greater good is served - crippling the evil USA. But what does that matter to you? That's not what you're about, so it's not an important consideration.
Do you know what narcissism means?
And who needs IVAW to do all that good mental health outreach you talk about? Which is just so much window dressing to justify (and/or obscure) their real purposes. The VVAW said and did the very same things. The connection between the two organizations, which you would like to paint thin, is that there is no tactic, not terminmlogy, no public relations strategy that is one iota different now in IVAW than what VVAW used in the 1970's. None. I saw this coming five years ago, although in the climate of opinion in this country recently, I never believed it could happen. You would think they'd have some new ideas in 35 years! They can't even come up with new terms for themselves and their forums. Except the new "kinder-gentler" farce as a strategy.
The VA is fully qualified to provide mental health services, thanks to the efforts of Vietnam Vets who not only helped define PTSD, but staffed most of the Vet Centers over the past three decades. Over 230 new Vet Centers are scheduled to open all over the country. I'd sure as hell prefer getting professional help there, than from some anti-war political activist. Who wouldn't? February 24, 2008 7:49 PM - Skyeblue said... Will you be posting back at base..Army Sergeant? Oh, there is another YouTube video that may be of interest... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCoN0tDeVqI
Of course, I would strongly urge all those participating in IVAW to submit their file for public review and cross examination.
I have sat in a room holding a friend of mine who was racked with sobs, because he was forced to kill a child. Was your friend named Jimmy Massey?? February 24, 2008 7:49 PM - Army Sergeant said... I neither know nor can speak to the "primary activist concern". I can only speak to what my concern, and what the concern of the members of IVAW I speak for may be. There is a large population of active duty within IVAW. Our concerns are what they are; they are not what may be politically expedient for you to believe they are.
You claim that: You may need, Sarge, to have your bubble burst about what the organization you belong to is really about, and what serves as window dressing. I generally do respect you, Denis, but wouldn't you think that the person who is actually a member might have more knowledge of what the heart of the organization actually is? What the organization is all about is not dictated by the impressions of others. It is dictated by its own core goals.
The "Troubled Vet" is not merely a prop, as you would have it. It is a reality, and one I see personally on a daily basis. They cannot and should not be so casually dismissed simply because you wish to ignore their existence. You read about them: I see them, hear them, and feel them.
You think that all those of us with honor are being used. What an insult is that! To think that everyone with honor must not have any intelligence if they choose a course which is opposed to yours. I don't think my opponents are stupid: I just think they're wrong. I don't think the VFF are being used, even though I disagree with them. Why must we be 'used' in your eyes?
Zero: The individual referenced is the individual Denis suggested IVAW does not care about: soldiers who appear publicly and expose their pain to the world. I do not understand how the IVAW is chewing through the lives and souls of older vets with an event that hasn't even happened yet. With all due respect, I believe that older vets are chewing through their own lives and souls expecting something which I do not believe will materialize. That's not something I can affect. I've tried explaining what Winter Soldier is in fact about to as many vets as I can: those like Denis Keohane simply insist that I don't know what I'm talking about, and we're all being used by old puppetmasters. Also, why must I personally choose a primary interest? I'm a complicated person, with complicated views. Both Iraq and war vets are important to me. I don't see why I should have to put one aside arbitrarily.
Namedic: Where in the goals of IVAW is it stated that it wants to attack American honor? I think it matters what the national organization of IVAW posts or states. It matters very much what they post or state-you're right, I don't want to belong to an organization which is opposed to my views. But IVAW does not state that it is against America, or against American honor. The overwhelming majority of IVAW members that I have met love America, and are honorable individuals. All of my fellow active duty members that I have met are good people that I am proud to have with me in military service. I don't agree with what your views of what IVAW is about-but you are not an IVAW member or leader. With all due respect, sir, why should I take your characterization of an organization you don't belong to as gospel truth?
You say that I define the pictures as atrocities, but I cannot see, either in my original post on the subject or here, where I have said that. Please point me to that? I think the only time I refered to them as atrocities is when I was stating what I believed your opinion was. What makes you so sure you think you know what the IVAW is about? I have sat in many meetings, met many people, and I have never heard this supposed agenda referenced. No one wants to cripple the USA-among most of those whom I have spoken to, a primary reason for opposing the war is to keep America and its ideals strong.
I would oppose any organization determined to go against America or its strength. I have opposed instances where I saw the larger anti-war movement take action against military or America-again, though, not something Mr. Keohane likes to publicize.
You claim that the VA is fully able to offer mental health services. That may be your experience, but that is not mine. I have a very good friend who was told by his VA doctor to "mix and match" his medication as he felt like. I have other friends who are still waiting for treatment.
Yes, I think better help is available from friends and brothers, especially since many military and former miltiary distrust headshrinkers as civilians who haven't experienced what they felt. I personally would go to a Homefront Battle Buddy long before I would go to a shrink if I was having problems, and I know several IVAW members have given me a call when they needed a friendly ear as well. February 24, 2008 8:07 PM - Zero Ponsdorf said... AS: "Both Iraq and war vets are important to me. I don't see why I should have to put one aside arbitrarily." I suspect that you question is true as far as you see it. But it does ask the question in turn. Is Iraq your primary issue? If so, deal with that.
"I do not understand how the IVAW is chewing through the lives and souls of older vets with an event that hasn't even happened yet." I've talked with you enough that I have to ask if this is a joke?
When you get to DC and see the folks outside the NLC, ask that question again. Maybe, at least, some of those folks are vets. February 24, 2008 8:32 PM - Army Sergeant said...Zero: No, Iraq is not my primary issue. My primary issue as I see it is my NCO duty-taking care of soldiers. I don't think my job stops when they get out of the service. The Iraq War is just one factor of that.
As for your question as to whether it's a joke, no, I'm not joking, but my point is that people and veterans are lining up to protest something when they're not even sure what it will be. Thus far, IVAW has not injured them, it has not done anything to damage them. It is in expectation of damage that people are acting, and expectation of damage I don't think will occur.
I know that you think poorly of the larger IVAW community, but I would remind you that you haven't talked to most of them. Maybe, just maybe, a lot of your opinion is based not on conversations with them, but on remembrance of what you feel happened in Vietnam-a time when most of us weren't even alive. And I would ask: is it really fair that we bear the brunt of expectations from a previous generation? February 24, 2008 9:31 PM - NAMedic said... army sergeant, You wrote in your first post on this thread: "He assumes the photos are being used to show atrocities for no real reason, unrelated to the witnesses."
This statement by you, as proven by the content of the rest of your paragraph, claims I assumed there was no connection between the depicted witnesses and the depicted photos. Your argument - very awkwardly stated - is about the connection of the visuals to the witnesses. It is that about which I made an unarranted assumption (according to you). You do not address nor do you claim here that I assumed anything about the character of the photos. If I misread you, it's not my reading comprehension, but your syntax you can blame. Going legalistic about the written goals statement of IVAW is not going to help your argument. What IVAW is in the process of doing, including this video, is all the information anyone needs to discern their agenda. Hitler's stated goal was to make a better world. So who knew, right?
IVAW posts a video stating that Army medics in Iraq treat dying wounded Americans with callous indifference. The overall impression is clearly and deliberately created that the stated (alleged) facts are representative of what goes on in Iraq and will be reinforced at IVAW's kangaroo court - because the purpose of the video and of the "winter soldier" is to reveal the "true" representative facts of what goes on in the war zone to the public. For very good reasons which I've stated in my original post, I simply find this whole story not credible, as well as an insult to the American soldier as medic especially. It is DISHONORING. But you're on board with it; no problem.
"With all due respect, sir, why should I take your characterization of an organization you don't belong to as gospel truth?"
Because I'm not a member or leader of al Queda and I do know damn well what they're up to, and I would wager you do too. You're not one of their members, are you? A leader, maybe? Then how'd you come by your opinion of them?
"I would oppose any organization determined to go against America or its strength."
If you'd spend half as much time looking into the origins of IVAW and its parent organizations and current connections as you do posting blog comments, you might just start doing that right where you are.
"I have a very good friend who was told by his VA doctor to "mix and match" his medication as he felt like. I have other friends who are still waiting for treatment."
Sounds like the IVAW has indoctrinated you well. You are definitely getting the technique down. You have just delegitimized the entire $28 billion a year VA system because a friend told you what his VA doctor told him, so you say, and so he says - and what he passed on to you is not even a complete sentence! Case closed! Do you see how it works now?
For your information, about treatment delays - the VA's Vet Center system was set up to do "readjustment counseling" including especially PTSD problems, which is mainly what we are talking about, right?. It is a walk-in set-up, community based and expanding by over 230 locations as we speak. You can probably be seen the same day at most locations. They also have social services representatives there and they do family counseling as well. They are all supported by the full range of VA medical services, and by referring from a Vet Center, you can cut a lot of wait time for additional services.
And, by the way, many of the providers are military vets, and often combat vets. Although most of the combat vets were Vietnam guys, and they are retiring out. So maybe IVAW could use its cadres of trained counselors to fill the ranks of the Vet Centers and really do a service for their fellow soldiers.
But first I suggest if you are going into the counseling business, you should try to know what you are talking about in respect to available help and proper referrals. Maybe you can squeeze that in between your English and logic classes. By the way, How many suffering combat vets have you steered away from effective professional help anyway? February 24, 2008 9:32 PM - streetsweeper95B said... Ok...If I may intercede here Denis. Ummmmm... army sergeant? Thank You for serving your country. *salute* So....sergeant be that as it may, are you able to answer a few questions that do not relate to your current military status?
In short, I am not asking anything about where your stationed, your unit or MOS. I see you just made another post in response to zero's. First I don't want to be addressing an unknown person of an unknown sex in an inapropiate manner. Men I address as sir, ladies are ma'am. Which are you? (Blame it on my mother, she was insistent I address men & women in the proper manner, hold doors open, pull chairs out, ect) February 24, 2008 9:58 PM - Army Sergeant said... namedic: I will concede that my syntax may have been faulty. I disagreed with your characterization of the photos as atrocities, and I apologize for not stating it more clearly.
We see different things in the video-which may be according to our viewpoints. If you looked at the credits of the video, you would see that the video is produced by the individuals who spoke in it. As such, I see it as the best example of soldiers (and one marine) telling their stories, which is what Winter Soldier will be about. No one would try to claim that combat medics in general treat patients with callous indifference. In fact, we have some combat medic IVAW members who would probably take issue with that characterization. The individuals told their stories as they saw them, about individual incidents that troubled them.
As for the VA: I honestly don't know how you can try to say that no one experiences delays in the VA system. I experience major delays in the military medical system, and I'm active duty. I can't imagine that the VA is somehow speedier when it has an astronomically larger number of people to take care of, even leaving aside the anecdotal evidence. My point in relating it is not to say that everyone gets terrible treatment at the VA: but rather to say that some people are not getting adequate care at the VA, and I believe that those people still deserve treatment.
As for suffering combat vets I've steered away from professional help? None. I've always offered it and provided contact information. And you know what? I'll still continue to talk to vets any time, any hour: because whatever you may think of me, I've had to talk people down from suicide and I've done it. And that to me makes it worthwhile. You can damn me all you like. I will take care of my own come hell or high water.
Skyeblue: I am not friends with Jimmy Massey. No. And that particular friend you're talking about is not even an IVAW member.
Streetsweeper: I'm not an officer, I work for a living. Please address me as Sergeant, or if you like you can take on Denis' habit of calling me 'Sarge'. I am happy to answer any question I can that doesn't require me to violate oaths or confidentiality. February 24, 2008 10:17 PM - Army Sergeant said... Skyeblue: As for the video: I'm sorry the first gentleman feels that way, and feels necessary to read a pre-prepared speech to that effect. I am sorry also that he chooses to refer to the opposition in Iraq as 'raghead'. Given that the people we are supposed to be winning the 'hearts and minds' of are also Muslim, I don't find his language very helpful. Nor do I agree with his statement on why most IVAW members joined. Many of us originally believed in the war, such as Jason Washburn and Ronn Cantu-who was originally pissed that his recruiter couldn't get him out the door any sooner. Also, I note that this member talks about atrocity far more than IVAW does.
I am also amused by the "I am looking forward to staring the cowards in the eye and putting the fear of the real god into them", followed by "May god bless our troops". Perhaps the gentleman is unaware that many members of IVAW are active duty. I wish he would make up his mind as to which he would like for us-fear or blessings. February 24, 2008 10:32 PM - streetsweeper95B said... Ok....army sergeant since you have obviously chosen to dodge my post...'mere you NCO piece of smuck! I'll be the inept stOOpid MP, you continue to be the dumbass NCO from whichever country it is you come from. You sir/ma'am are not/nor ever were in the United States Army. Coupla things are burning yer tail, I'm holding the torch. The rest of you take a seat, have a cup of joe with yer donut, chill pill time. February 24, 2008 10:48 PM - NAMedic said... "As for the VA: I honestly don't know how you can try to say that no one experiences delays in the VA system." I never said any such thing. We happen to be talking about apples and oranges. See below. "As for suffering combat vets I've steered away from professional help? None. I've always offered it and provided contact information."
And how can you do that properly when you apparently are unaware of the primary help option available - the VA Vet Centers? "And you know what? I'll still continue to talk to vets any time, any hour: because whatever you may think of me, I've had to talk people down from suicide and I've done it. And that to me makes it worthwhile. You can damn me all you like. I will take care of my own come hell or high water." This nobility/self-pity stuff is getting old. I'll bet you are not even aware that's what this special pleading is. Do you think that's the path to getting credibility?
I talked a kid down with a unpinned grenade in his hand in a bunker full of .50cal ammo and a couple cases of grenades. I Had my hand on my.45 and was thinking about whether or not I had to shoot him to get the grenade away and prevent a disaster and threat to my own life. I sent a runner to commo to radio down the hill to make sure everyone down below got the hell out of the way if I got it in time to toss it. But none of this about you or me has anything whatever to do with the price of apples here - which is IVAW's current incarnation of grand opera which doesn't belong in public but in a therapist's office or a court room.
You are really very good at missing the entire point and only hearing what you prefer to hear. Maybe that's how you can stand IVAW. The VA Vet Centers are the primary resource for vets and now even some active duty (I'm pretty sure) for PTSD and like interventions. They are set up as I described - community based and walk-in. The only paperwork you need is a DD214 or, if active, your ID card. No appointments, although a call ahead is wise. What you are talking about is VA Medical Centers, or maybe even the outpatient satellite clinics. Not the same thing.
If you are unaware of this resource, you are doing those you talk to a disservice. If IVAW is really in the help business, it is inconceivable they have not filled you in on this. But then, I'm not surprised, because that's not the business they are really in, is it? February 24, 2008 11:29 PM - streetsweeper95B said... Wanna know something army sergeant? You have beennnnn backstroking real bad lately. So bad in fact, nobody else has paid attention to your eloquent usage of the "Royal Language".
Why? Because they are too ticked off to notice & you know it. 'Mere you rat mofo.....pretty wild a real deal street punk fingers your act out, ain't it?
Everyone was so busy running your gaunlet, they had no clue what yer up to. 'Mere..I'm gonna violate yer so-called criminal rights....You really shoulda checked yer spelling dictionary before posting on any threads.
Sweet, nice, very nice "colours' 'stead a "colors" hehehe.....oh yea! "honorific" orginates in two places on this planet called Earth, dude/dudette. Middle East,Pakistan, India, several other mid east countries including Saudi Arabia & Asia! February 24, 2008 11:32 PM - Robin said... Army Sergeant - while I respect you and the strength of your convictions, I do have to ask myself why you continue to defend IVAW.
IVAW encourages active duty military to "refuse and resist" as a way to end the war. IVAW sponsors actions such as blocking recruiting efforts, encouraging and assisting AWOL soldiers, promulgating the atrocity angle all the while teaming up with organizations such as ANSWER, CodePink and United for Peace & Justice. Claim "supporting the troops" all you want, but the above actions are nothing more than a rehash of the very same tactics the anti-Vietnam War protesters used - not surprising since VFP and VVAW were instrumental in helping organize IVAW. The sole purpose is to force the US to withdraw from Iraq in such a way as to embolden our enemies.
Screaming "Halliburton", "blood for oil" and carrying the American flag upside down is certainly not supporting the soldiers who are fighting in the war. It does nothing more than inflame the anti-American hatred of our enemies and as such endanger the lives of every single member of the military currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When a founder of IVAW serves as a member of the veteran's advisory board of such a vile publication as GI Special/Traveling Soldier (which is featured on the pro-insurgent website albasrah.net), then I do have to question the motives behind the organization.
I truly believe that your heart is in the right place. Just because you are a member does not make you an expert - sometimes it only serves to blind you to the truth. I encourage you to read the book "Stolen Valor" prior to Winter Soldier II. You will get a profound sense of deja vu.
Winter Soldier was an inordinately bad choice of a title for the "meeting". But IVAW does not distance itself from the original Winter Soldier - in fact it uses the orginal WS as an argument for WSII. It does nothing more than open up the scabs of wounds in the hearts of MOST of the Vietnam Veterans. There was nothing honorable about Winter Soldier and there is nothing that leads me to believe the reincarnation will be any different. February 24, 2008 11:45 PM - Skyeblue said... AS, Jimmy Massey is not IVAW - but he did claim to kill a child, a story he later refuted. I want the after action report from your 'friend'.
Glad you find it amusing. With al-queda comitting suicide in Iraq, it seems the 'hearts and minds' of the Iraqi's are firmly on our side. I look forward to requesting the service records of all who particpate in this travesty. I'm sure it will be a Scott Beuchamp redux.
Oh, fellow posters, I did catch an original winter soldier change his story in the following conversation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAdbkaCtqMo February 24, 2008 11:48 PM - Skyeblue said... Perhaps the gentleman is unaware that many members of IVAW are active duty. How many of them? I recall you were not able to precisely numerate the membership of IVAW. February 24, 2008 11:55 PM - Skye said... IVAW and their actions: I believe this is a violation of Title 18, US Code. Sections:
1381. Enticing desertion and harboring deserters
2383. Rebellion or insurrection (solicting the Military to go against the government, siding with enemies, etc)
2384. Seditious conspiracy
2387. Activities affecting armed forces generally
(a) Whoever, with intent to interfere with, impair, or influence the loyalty, morale, or discipline of the military or naval forces of the United States:
(1) advises, counsels, urges, or in any manner causes or attempts to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the military or naval forces of the United States; or
(2) distributes or attempts to distribute any written or printed matter which advises, counsels, or urges insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the military or naval forces of the United States—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.
(b) For the purposes of this section, the term “military or naval forces of the United States” includes the Army of the United States, the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve of the United States; and, when any merchant vessel is commissioned in the Navy or is in the service of the Army or the Navy, includes the master, officers, and crew of such vessel.
February 25, 2008 12:11 AM - Army Sergeant said... Streetsweeper: I didn't ignore your post, I said I'd answer your questions. Also, yes, you're quite right, 'honour' is the British spelling, as is 'colour'. I also spell gray/grey interchangeably, and probably a few others I wouldn't notice without it being pointed out. I read a lot of literature from an early age, some of it British, and I honestly don't pay attention to which way I'm spelling things. Thinking this means I'm from Saudi Arabia or the Middle East is pretty damn funny. I'm sorry to tell you, I'm an American citizen, born in America, and I am a non-commissioned officer in its Army.
Namedic: I will take into consideration your support of the VA vet centers you mention. If you have a list of where they are, I will add it to potential references, though I will reserve judgement until I see it myself in action. I am glad you talked that guy down-and would hope that would help you to see the value of peer talk as opposed to professional talk, at least sometimes.
Robin: I think that resistance can take many forms, and it doesn't have to take the form of illegality. It can include, for example, signing the "appeal for redress". Someday when I have more time, I'll post about it.
I don't know if you were reading me back when I talked about the flag code, but essentially, it's not anti-American to fly the flag upside down-it's a symbol of distress. Whether I believe the time has come for that signal or distress within the bounds of our own country or not, the fact remains that it is not inherently disrespectful to fly the flag with the union down.
Is there really nothing that leads you to believe that anything will be different than you believe it? If so, then all I can say is that I hope the events will persuade you otherwise. I truly hope that when Winter Soldier comes, you will see that the troops are not going to be maligned, and that things will take place that can only help them.
Skyeblue: I don't know how many times I can tell you that I am not friends with Jimmy Massey. Nor have I ever been friends with Jimmy Massey. I don't think I've ever even met Jimmy Massey in person. The individual I am referring to was posted with me three years ago, and I have since lost touch with him. However, when I last talked to him, he supported the war.
Also, even if I had the exact membership records, I would not release them: active duty in IVAW have an anonymity option.
Skye: (who if you are the same as skyeblue, sorry for the separate heading)
That would be correct: if I were actually advising, counseling, urging, or in any manner causes or attempts to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the military or naval forces of the United States;
Instead, I am urging members of the military forces to exercise their full rights under DoD Directive 1325.6, which governs protest and dissident activities. I do not encourage anyone to mutiny, or to disobey any legal order. I encourage all military members to disobey illegal orders, as they should. February 25, 2008 7:10 AM - streetsweeper95B said... Oh come on, sergeant! You are from & educated in A) Au Canada, B) Great Britian, C) Australia D) Middle Eastern/ Southwest Asian country where use of Royal Language is the norm, not the exception & a strong Islam/Muslim background. I don't buy for a nano-second your reading a lot books from England as a child influencing your grammatic skills now, dude (or dudette as the case may be) February 25, 2008 7:16 AM - streetsweeper95B said... Keep putting the pressure on sergeant, Denis, skye & namedic.....This one's a real charmer. February 25, 2008 10:07 AM - Thus Spake Ortner said... I think my bona fides are atleast well wnough known by Robin and Dennis, and possibly Skye who knows I am friends with bellavia to jump in here. I disagree with damn near everything AS says, from flags upside down to the stories of the IVAW clowns. But AS is an american, I've tested to ensure that AS who who he/she claims to be by checking my blog for a hit from where he/she claimed to be. Also, if he/she is not, then I have been conversing with the wrong person on going to WSI, since he/she has all my crap to get me in the door.
Although as I said I disagree with most everything AS posts, and have done so repeatedly on my blog, I do not believe that AS is anti-military in aim, although I would certainly agree with the masses here that that is what results. In short, I don't ascribe anything nefarious to AS, althoughj I also don't agree with 90% of his/her positions. February 25, 2008 10:07 AM - Thus Spake Ortner said... Oh, also, totally endorse the idea of Senate Armed Services Committee people coming. I'd like to think IVAW would also approve, since they are the ones who are asking Bush et al to attend, and they should want more exposure, assuming that all the stories are on the up and up. (Yeah, I know, I don't believe it either, but benefit of the doubt before we clobber them with it.) February 25, 2008 10:34 AM - Army Sergeant said... I'd endorse it if we get more than 11 minutes. Also, if they understand that they are not there to speechify, and the first person trying to get in front of the cameras and talk about election stuff gets unceremoniously asked to leave. That's just my personal preference, though, not official policy. February 25, 2008 11:04 AM - Thus Spake Ortner said... I wouldn't even give them that. Give them a kids desk and tell them to sit in the corner. Let teh bloggers do the lifting, we're better than senate staffers any day of the week. February 25, 2008 6:29 PM - NAMedic said... army sergeant, You wrote: "I will take into consideration your support of the VA vet centers you mention. If you have a list of where they are, I will add it to potential references, though I will reserve judgement until I see it myself in action." All this statement does for me is confirm that you are an idiot and you have no idea what you are talking about. Anyone who listens to you is a fool.
Here is a link to the VA's book (170 pages in pdf) of Federal Benefits available for Veterans. It includes a state by state listing of all contact info for all VA facilities including hundreds of Vet Centers at the back of the book: http://www1.va.gov/opa/vadocs/fedben.pdf
Meanwhile, as you digest this, I'm sure the Secretary of Veterans Affairs is anxiously awaiting your approval of this program, which has been operating for the last 28 years or so, and is the go-to, state-of-the-art, worldwide resource for PTSD.
You also write, "I am glad you talked that guy down-and would hope that would help you to see the value of peer talk as opposed to professional talk, at least sometimes."
Nice try at turning the argument. Among all the other things about which you have no clue, the Vet Center program has as its major component peer group counseling. They even have specialized peer groups, like one for combat medics.
It's amazing to me how you manage to avoid dealing with any real issues and never answer when what you've posted here gets blown away.
As in my: "If you are unaware of this resource, you are doing those you talk to a disservice. If IVAW is really in the help business, it is inconceivable they have not filled you in on this. But then, I'm not surprised, because that's not the business they are really in, is it?" February 25, 2008 6:43 PM - NAMedic said... Skye, You wrote;
"IVAW and their actions, I believe this is a violation of Title 18, US Code. Sections: . . . etc."
Of course these are violations of the law. These people need to be in jail. One reason the VVAW and Winter Soldier 1971 and a lot else that went on then is so infuriating to veterams of that era is the failure of the United States to prosecute these people at the time. The governemnt failed in its duty to protect its protectors, just as is happening again in places like Berkeley, and next month at this WS event. In fact, none of this would be happening now if the government had abided by the rule of law in the 1970's and done its duty. Much of the political subversion that is now so widely accepted as normal among masses of useful idiots would not now be happening.
Meeting abroad with high ranking officers of an enemy governemnt at a time when we were at war with them, then returning to this country and publicly promoting that enemy government's war time aims and political agenda is defined in the highest law of the land - the U.S. Constitution. It's called treason. But instead of invoking the law against this treason, the nation winds up putting the offenders in high public office, and eventually one of them almost became the President and Commander-in-Chief. February 25, 2008 6:57 PM - NAMedic said... army sergeant wrote, "I do not encourage anyone to mutiny, or to disobey any legal order. I encourage all military members to disobey illegal orders, as they should." Yeah, but the people you and the IVAW are in bed with, real charmers like Code Pink, sure do. Don't you know who you are in bed with?
Just take a look at this video of them http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecy0LONUjKE
You might want to stop the video at the last frame, which appears only briefly at the end, so you can believe your blinking eyes. The banner they are carrying down the middle of an American street says "We support the murder of the American troops." February 25, 2008 9:13 PM - Thus Spake Ortner said... That last picture with the sign has been photoshopped I believe. I've seen it before and someone admitted that had photoshopped it. Will try to find the link to it. February 25, 2008 9:15 PM - Thus Spake Ortner said... http://angela-stevens.com/archives/i-dont-understand-the-code-pink-mentality/ Can't find a direct source, but this talks about it. February 25, 2008 10:48 PM - NAMedic said... thus spake wrote, "That last picture with the sign has been photoshopped I believe. I've seen it before and someone admitted that had photoshopped it."
All you have to do is watch the rest of the video to know that last frame is not far from that mind-set. It is just a bit more direct and to the point.
February 25, 2008 11:18 PM - NAMedic said... Thus Spake, I won't argue whether or not the photo is faked. The site you linked to conatins numerous comments that claim it is fake, but provide no link to anything that demonstrates that as a fact. One commenter says there is a watermark on the photo showing who actually created it. That mark is "www.codepinkalert.com" and that opens the official Coded Pink website.
Let me know what you find.
February 26, 2008 7:56 AM - Thus Spake Ortner said... I don't take a back seat to anyone hating code pink, trust me. I've been at Walter Reed during their demonstrations, I go to Senate and House hearings where these retards are thrown out, and I've been at Vets For Freedom rallys when these people get arrested for making asses of themselves, so trust me, I'm one of you guys.
But, I will try to find specific stuff on that pic being faked. They are all deadbeats in my mind, I just don't like photoshopped stuff.
February 26, 2008 10:36 AM - NAMedic said... TPO, Totally agree. I'm not interested in being hoodwinked by anyone or in propagating false info. The advantage we have is in being factually accurate vs their whining personalized mush. I also know enough about the disinformation mind-set of the Left that it is not improbable that such photos are a set-up by them to get us to make fools of ourselves by using falshoods they created just for that purpose of delegitimization. So the actual source would be interesting to know - if it can ever be found at all.
Regardless, the entire remaining substance of that (and other) CP videos is devastating to any sane American, and is typical of the kinds of things the MSM deliberately hides from public view.
February 26, 2008 10:53 AM - Army Sergeant said... My primary job isn't peer counseling, because I don't really have the time to offer it on a real part-time basis. Although as an NCO, I spend most of my time talking to soldiers and helping them with their lives-and far from discouraging me from it, the Army says that's what's supposed to happen.
As to Code Pink...on the subject of photoshopping and counter-double-reverse, I really don't think anyone has the time, energy, or sufficient deviousness to try to create a photo that looks bad, for the explicit purpose of letting pro-war individuals use it, only to jerk the rug out from underneath them. It sounds like way too much work.
I often have my differences with Code Pink in some locations. I do not approve of what is going on at Berkeley, and I do not approve of protesting in front of Walter Reed. In my eyes, the only legitimate purpose for protesting is to request redress of grievance from government officials who have grieved you, and wounded soldiers are neither said government officials, nor are they able to redress any grievance. All decisions are made echelons way above their paygrade. I've never been shy of admitting that.
However, other Code Pink groups across the country have not all followed in that model: some have even taken the pink off in order to help. Thus, I would not tar them all with that brush.
February 26, 2008 12:03 PM - NAMedic said... Army sergeant is back with his/her moral relativism again. If he/she thinks leftist agitpropers don't have the time to be ruthlessly devious, he/she is providing still more evidence of living in a dream world.
He/she now abandons the avocation of peer counseling she once held out to be not only her role - as an IVAW member - but as an avocation superior to the unknown (to him/her) and useless (to him/her) efforts of the VA system in helping vets with combat stress.
He/she now justifies Code Pink and its support for and affiliation with IVAW because they are "not all that bad."
It's like hanging out with drug dealers and defending this association because they go to church twice a year and are not child molesters.
As a friend wrote to me privately about this thread :
". . . great job cutting through the "soft propaganda" approach that seems all the rage among leftists these days when they're trying to defuse critics. The goal is to use soothing language and pretend to seek common ground in order to make their opponents feel sheepish about being ticked off at their lies and propaganda."
It can't be said any better than that.
So, Army Sergeant, try selling your crap to some befuddled high school student you can recruit to a life of subversion. It ain't floating here, because we all know your game.
February 26, 2008 12:34 PM - Thus Spake Ortner said... Don't want to throw in a link on your blog, but I have 2 posts up today about an IVAW founder y'all might enjoy. I linked back to you guys of course.
February 26, 2008 2:19 PM - Denis Keohane said... This thread did quite well without me, not very much of surprise. Didn’t intend to neglect it, just a whole lot of things on the plate right now. Did want, though, to say some things I think are important to Sarge.
AS: “…wouldn't you think that the person who is actually a member might have more knowledge of what the heart of the organization actually is? What the organization is all about is not dictated by the impressions of others. It is dictated by its own core goals.”
Of course the answer to that is - “yes” and “no”. Isn’t it a mainstay of many IVAW member’s statements that they had served in the military, sometimes for years, but belatedly came to the realization of the bad things they were being used for – by that organization?
I’m going to speak plainly to you, Sarge. You and those close to you in IVAW may be entirely honest and sincere in what you hope and believe WSI will and is to be about. But the evidence is also plain and there for any to see that your view is not the driver behind this thing. One can still go to the VVAW site, or those of the VFP, and many others, and they are still expecting and promoting the widespread atrocity theme. That’s the money theme!
WSI is a meant to be a media event, Sarge, with a purpose, and not a group therapy session or caring educational instrument. If it becomes that symposium you allude to where soldiers simply tell of their experiences, and issues like veteran care and the like are prominent, WSI does not make the leap from the left and anti-war echo chamber media to the MSM. It won’t have the pizzazz to capture the headlines. But it has to make that leap, for many, even if behind the scenes at IVAW to some degree, because nothing and no one matters more than our withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, no matter the consequences of that. In order to make that leap, the widespread atrocity theme has to be in play.
Sarge, anyone, and I mean anyone, can find the connections. One only has to look. They are not well advertised, but neither are they well hidden. IVAW has support and advisors with publicly available records that go back years. I’ve found them! You can. Say what you will about care for the veteran, yet I can find a trail in which such lofty concerns are not remotely present. What is present is the constant drumbeat of crime, brutality and atrocity by Americans, and that message is beamed repeatedly into the area of the world where it will most aid recruiting of those who will – kill those soldiers you say you care about. Those messages, sent by those who advise IVAW, are credited to IVAW.
Whether you admit to it or are unaware that it is going on, there is friction right now on your side. Big friction. There are those who have “invested” in IVAW to deliver on the war crimes and atrocities themes, with the lurid and headline grabbing. They are not going to let go. Some of that ‘advisory’ capability is going to be there, at WSI. Mark my words on that.
Sarge, you and others in IVAW are right now, whether you are aware of it or not, at a crossroads in your lives.
Have you ever given much thought, or have any of your IVAW companions, to the those Winter Soldiers of 1971, and what has become of most of them?
If what I say about that from here on it sounds sympathetic, it is not. It is simply describing something like tragedy they brought on themselves as part of a greater tragedy.
When the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth were mentioned on this site some time back I thought your reaction was a bit strange. Never mind that, though. Just an overview of the type missed in all the fire and thunder.
The SwiftVets who had served with Kerry believed that the man was a self-serving opportunist who turned his back on his brothers and had used them badly and simply for his own ends. Oddly enough, or not, there have been several published reports and also evidence in the comments made here by VVAW members, that that is also exactly how the members of the Vietnam Vets Against the War came to see Kerry. That uniformity of opinion was lost in the furor.
At that first WSI, the leaders like Kerry and Al Hubbard didn’t testify! They didn’t go on that record with their “testimony”. They left that to others. You may or may not have heard of Steve Pitkin, the only WSI 1971 testifier who has actually signed a legally binding affidavit about his Winter Soldier testimony. He didn’t do so until 2004, when in that statement he admitted he had lied, and did so when pressured by Kerry and other VVAW leaders to tell of witnessing atrocities that never happened.
Sarge, it has been well known in greyer veteran circles for decades that a significant number of those WSI 1971 testifiers had become very ashamed of what they had done. Give it a little thought.
They give that testimony, and a few moths later John Kerry becomes a national figure and star at Senator Fulbright’s hearings. Kerry’s career in Democratic politics has gotten its decisive kick-start.
By the end of the next year, 1972, virtually all of the US combat forces had been withdrawn from Vietnam. The drawdown began almost two years before WSI. In 1975, Saigon falls and the communist north wins…and the bloodbath begins.
Millions killed in Cambodia. Tens and hundreds of thousands in Vietnam sent to reeducation camps, many to simply perish in them. Between one and two million Vietnamese, women, children, the elderly, set to sea in any leaky piece of garbage that will float simply to escape. They become known as the Boat People. As many as a million and more simply perish on the high seas. For some reason, even while the US forces were in Vietnam, rampaging and pillaging the countryside like the hordes of Ghengis Khan as described by VVAW’s most notable spokesman, the Vietnamese has not taken that desperate step. And the Winter Soldiers of 1971 see that.
By the eighties, it is common throughout much of America to see Vietnamese and Cambodian families, communities, restaurants and businesses. They came to the country with the racist people they should have been terrified of, if Winter Soldier 1971 was true. The Winter Soldiers of 1971 saw that too.
Also by those eighties and continuing, TV and film were in full neo-DePalma mode. The Vietnam veteran was a deranged drug using time bomb or mental case, or a guilt ridden murderer who could not cope, or the like. That was a WSI legacy, and the Winter Soldiers of 1971 saw that too, and knew the part they played in it. Meanwhile, studies then and later showed that to be way off the mark. The Vietnam Vets were doing as well or better in every societal indicator as any other group, and better than most.
The Winter Soldiers had slandered their brothers, perhaps the only group of individuals with whom they shared what could have been a bond that would stand forever. They had destroyed the possibility. They were not seen as the heroes or even simply very decent souls who had spoken the truth. By then, the truth was known by all if not admitted by some for political reasons: we had been fighting against truly evil people, for the sake of others.
Perhaps the best indication of what has become of those Winter Soldiers was what happened in 2004, when Kerry ran for President. He surrounded himself with his Vietnam “Band of Brothers”, men who had served on his Swift Boat and others like Jim Rassman. Anything odd about that, Sarge?
Why weren’t the Winter Soldiers of 1971 those who made up the Kerry Band of Brothers? Weren’t those Viet Vets the ones who spoke truth to power, who did what they could to end an unjust war? Weren’t they the ones who gave credence to Kerry’s line that about being the last man to die for a mistake? Yet when the members of Kerry’s Band of Brothers were introduced on stages and at the Democratic Convention, they were applauded, and honored, not because they had testified at Winter Soldier about the atrocities committed by Americans in an unjust and criminal war – but because they had fought in that war!
Of those Winter Soldiers of 1971, there are still a few who cling like radicals of all times and places to the glory days. Yet for most, it is simply something that they did, and I would strongly suggest came to regret, and could not undo, and would simply like to forget. Were you aware, Sarge, that when those Viet Vets gathered at the first WSI they did not know what it was to be about? They didn’t know they would be “counseled” by those “professionals” on hand, and the cameras were ready for them, just waiting. They got caught up in something, and for whatever reasons of the time and place, went along. They ended up having no real effect on the outcome of that war, but their own lives were effected, very much, in the private recesses where we all hold our regrets.
A great many units from the Vietnam War, like veterans of others wars before it, have held reunions, years later, when the now older comrades in arms catch-up with each other. Something worth giving thought to: the Winter Soldiers of 1971 have never done so! The producers of the filmed testimony did so, but not the veterans. There is a loud statement in that.
Sarge, there are those who know what they expect to get out of WSI. One way or another, they are going to try to get it. February 26, 2008 2:50 PM - Denis Keohane said... TSO: “Don't want to throw in a link on your blog, but I have 2 posts up today about an IVAW founder y'all might enjoy. I linked back to you guys of course.”
Damn, son, heck of a take-down and pin, and he’s got to have at least eighty pounds on ya!
I’ll throw up the links! They are more than worth it!
What an IVAW Founder Thinks of You http://3-116thsniper.blogspot.com/2008/02/what-ivaw-founder-thinks-of-you.html
Addendum to Last Post http://3-116thsniper.blogspot.com/2008/02/addendum-to-last-post.html February 26, 2008 2:52 PM - NAMedic said... Denis, I'm told by those who made a largely sucessful effort to talk with many of the WSI-71 witnesses that the recurring refrain among them was summed up in one word: "repudiate." But getting them to say so on the record may never happen because of shame and fear. I'll ease their fear by agreeing with you that they may not have understood exactly how they were going to be used, nor understood what the historic consequences of that manipulation would be. And I think I can ease their fear by remembering that Steve Pitkin was taken warmly back into the fold of the real "Band of Brothers" of honorable veterans. They were thankful for the vindication he offered them and they admired the courage and humility he showed.
Isn't it so very, very ironic that the millons of Nam Vets unjustly saddled with shame and fear - not to mention stifled outrage - by the original winter soldiers are now mostly freed from it, and the only ones left with those burdens to take to their graves are the WSI witnesses themselves.
Maybe this IVAW retrospecive will prod a few of the first winter soldiers to finally come clean in public. Confession is indeed good for the soul. You are wise - and compassionate - to urge the new crop in IVAW to think about what they are doing.
Who wants to be the last radical to die carrying a lie - alone? February 26, 2008 3:45 PM -Denis Keohane said... "Isn't it so very, very ironic that the millons of Nam Vets unjustly saddled with shame and fear - not to mention stifled outrage - by the original winter soldiers are now mostly freed from it, and the only ones left with those burdens to take to their graves are the WSI witnesses themselves… Who wants to be the last radical to die carrying a lie - alone?"
That is just stunningly worth repeating!
This article was originally published by the Statesman.com, February 19, 2008
To a packed classroom of students and community members in the communications building at UT this past Saturday, a panel of two active duty army soldiers, two Iraq war veterans and a long-time PTSD counselor shared their experiences about Iraq and expressed a common goal: bring the troops home now.
While a thunderstorm boomed outside, the panelists described the kinds of storms they have weathered in Iraq as well as interior storms that still sometimes rage inside them. The types of experiences they shared were not new to me, but for these young veterans, speaking about the war in a public setting was relatively new to them. As visiting active duty Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) organizer, Selena Coppa, pointed out during the Q & A, the courage and integrity involved in speaking out are among the values they pledge to uphold in the military. “How often have we been told: “Take the hard right, not the easy wrong.’”
Ronn Cantu, just back from his second tour in Iraq, spoke first. Casey Porter, expecting an imminent second deployment to Iraq, spoke last. Along with a third colleague, Cantu and Porter just this month co-founded Chapter 38 of Iraq Veterans Against the War at Ft. Hood, the fourth active duty IVAW chapter nationally.
Cantu, who enlisted in the US Army in 1998, said, “If Jesus Christ had told me as I was walking into that recruiting station that 10 years later I’d be an anti-war activist, I wouldn’t have believed him.” Cantu was discharged from the Army in 2002, but re-enlisted the next year because he believed the threats that Colin Powell insisted Iraq posed to the world. On Valentine’s Day, 2004, he arrived in Kuwait, but by that point, he said, he was already skeptical. Once in Iraq, maneuvers such as convoys driving down the middle of roads, forcing local traffic to the sides, caused him to realize “the disconnect between the rhetoric of why we were there” and what he was seeing. He and other soldiers began to raise questions about the occupation “one sentence at a time, like ‘Do you think we’re just here defending ourselves?’” The senselessness, he said, caused troops to do things they wouldn’t have done normally. “It’s easy to take out our frustrations on the native population. There was a push to just detain people because it gave the patrols a purpose – it helped us get through each day.”
Two Iraq vets from Texas State University spoke next. Greg Foster enlisted at age 23 with “a swell of patriotism” in 2003. He was deployed to Iraq in the summer of ’04 and engaged in gun battles in a Shiite neighborhood of East Baghdad for about 4 months. He didn’t see improvement, and when a young boy on a bicycle asked him one day, “Mista, mista, why you in my country?” he realized he didn’t have a satisfactory answer for him. Once back in the US and discharged in August ’06, Foster said he didn’t talk about Iraq. “When I got out of the army, I tried to separate myself from my experiences,” he said. But, when he visited some friends at Ft. Hood recently, he said he felt himself become reconnected, which made him want to do what he could to end the war that had taken lives of people he knew. He spoke the name of one friend who had been killed in Iraq, and the tears came.
Brian Henrietta, also a student at TSU, said that he enlisted prior to 9-11, mostly because he needed the college money. When he was deployed to Iraq, he said, “I wanted to trust the president. Who doesn’t want to trust the president?” He served as a journalist in the military, towing “the company line” but questioning things privately. He said that their military reports were often “sanitized, controlled messages - complete fluff.” A pool of Iraqi journalists would come onto his base and were paid to write positive stories about the occupation. If they wrote negative stories, they were kicked out. Henrietta wondered what democratic reforms the US was really encouraging in Iraq. “The base of a democracy is a free and fair press,” he said – and that’s not what he experienced there. Now at TSU, he is active with a campus group that has been working to register student voters. In 3 months, they have registered 6,000 students, he said.
Next on the panel was Karen Hutchins, a counselor specializing in PTSD who has been working with trauma patients for 35 years.
She believes that even with the increased awareness and press coverage of PTSD among returning Iraq war veterans, PTSD is still “way under-diagnosed” by the military. She said that the core feeling leading to PTSD is helplessness: the lack of clear missions and clear ‘enemies’ and the feeling of being in danger at all times. She said that when soldiers take out their frustration on the local population, she understands why. “It’s a natural response to an abnormal experience.” PTSD can literally alter the body’s endocrine system, she said. “It’s destructive to the mind, body and soul.” In her experience, PTSD is not cured; it is managed. She uses a “returning warriors program” that she finds more effective than prescribing medications to control symptoms. When the issue of substance abuse came up, the vets and soldiers on the panel nodded, two of them confessing to their own self-medicated “drunken hazes.”
The panelists also spoke about ways that, beginning with basic training, soldiers are inculcated with the notion that civilians and soldiers are separate and that civilians are not to be trusted – not only in Iraq but in the US as well. “They tell you that your girlfriend is going to cheat on you. Anti-war people are going to spit on you.” Soldiers are trained, when breaking into homes in Iraq, to display an aggressive “violence of action” – that is, shouting, being rough, breaking things, tearing things up. They are trained to look at civilians’ hands, not their faces.
Casey Porter wound up the panel by showing several videos he has made – in Iraq and at Ft. Hood – to give us a more vivid picture of what the consequences of “violence of action” look like. He described his own experiences in Iraq, where his unit took over a group of dirt-floored farmers’ houses. He talked about house raids, where “nine times out of ten, you don’t find anything in the homes – not even a gun – just terrified kids, women, families.” One video he made was a tribute to friends who were killed in Iraq. His emotion, when remembering his friends, is still fresh.
For Porter and his colleagues on the panel, trying to get the truth out about the realities on the ground in Iraq is their way of honoring their friends – trying to prevent more deaths by working to end the war now.