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General Shinseki’s Resignation Will Solve Nothing: The Real Problem is a Decade of War May 30, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Mental Health, Peace, War.
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Roger’s note: this is a press release issued by Veterans for Peace.  These former soldiers know from first hand experience what are the real costs of war, i.e. precious human life.  They refuse to see themselves as pawns, but rather as thinking and caring human beings, capable of understanding the dynamics of warfare and who profits by it.

 

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Saint Louis. General Eric Shinseki has resigned from his position as Secretary of the Veterans Administration. Now what? When will we start the real debate the nation must have about turning away from war?

The resignation of General Eric Shinseki is not the answer to the challenges facing the Veterans Administration. Yes the department has serious problems of mismanagement, incompetence, indifference and fraud. All these issues must be fixed immediately. Someone must be held accountable and apparently that someone is Eric Shinseki. But we must get to the root of the problem.

Why is the VA overwhelmed by greater numbers of wounded veterans that it can effectively serve? The answer is more than a decade of war. “War is the real culprit in this crisis,” said Michael McPhearson, Executive Director of Veterans For Peace. “We must stop war mongers and corporate profiteers from controlling our foreign policy.”

“We must stop throwing our children, and the children of the world into the meat grinder of war. Every soldier and every victim of war is someone’s child.”

There is a clear pattern of neglect of veterans and troops by both Democrats and Republicans, who have systematically underfunded healthcare in their war budgets. These same problems plagued the agency long before Shinseki.

We must acknowledge that U.S. service members are facing dire stress as reflected in historically high rates of suicide, sexual assault and rape in the military. Military personnel are exhausted and depleted, with many of them having deployed more than five times, and some as many as ten.

These war policies are killing innocent people who are not a threat and will never be a threat to U.S. security or legitimate interests. For many service members, this is the most debilitating aspect of their sacrifice. Many thousands of our soldiers and veterans are suffering from “moral injury,” produced by the immoral nature of the wars they execute, as exemplified by indiscriminate killing, indefinite detention, targeted assassinations and torture.

Moreover, the Bush and Obama Administration’s war policies have failed. Afghanistan is far from secure. Violent deaths are a daily occurrence. Women are severely oppressed by Taliban and U.S.-backed warlords alike. Iraq is in utter turmoil, with sectarian violence killing scores of people on an almost daily basis. As outlined in the State Department’s annual report on global terrorism, a decade of war has failed to end or reduce terrorism. The State Department report, released in April, showed that worldwide terrorism increased by 43% in 2013.

“Why does President Obama want to keep 9,800 U.S. troops and untold numbers of contractors in Afghanistan?” asked Gerry Condon, Vice President of Veterans For Peace. “Continuing this failed policy is another grave disservice to our soldiers. If we really want to ‘Support the Troops,’ we should bring them all home now and give them the care they need and deserve.”

As Vietnam veteran John Kerry said while testifying before Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

We keep asking our service members to be the last person to die in Afghanistan. The ones who make it back home are neglected. Bring Them Home Now and Take Care of Them When They Get Here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, May 30, 2014

For more information:

Michael McPhearson, Interim Executive Director, 314-725-6005, mcphearson@veteransforpeace.org

Gerry Condon, Veterans For Peace Vice President, 206-499-1220, projectsafehaven@hotmail.com

Camilo Mejia, Former Veterans For Peace Board Member, 786-302-8842, black65d@aol.com(Spanish Interpreter)

Sam Feldman, Former Veterans For Peace Board Member, 305-632-0036, SAMFELDMAN@THE-BEACH.NET(Spanish Interpreter)

The primary cause for the disaster in care is more than a decade of war! May 24, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Peace, War.
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Roger’s note: I cringe when in Canada or the US and I see one of those “support our troops” bumper stickers.  I think of the hypocrisy of the governments who send men and women to kill and be killed in illegal imperialist wars, then abandon them when they come home broken physically and mentally.  As the song goes: “When will they ever learn?”

 

Veterans for Peace (VFP) press release, May 22, 2014

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Veterans For Peace calls on the President and Congress to stop using the lives and deaths of veterans and troops for political points and gain, and to cease using military force and war as the means for solving international conflicts. Yes, we must address the incompetence, indifference and inefficiencies of the Veterans Administration. However, the primary cause for the disaster in care is more than a decade of war.

VFP Interim Executive Director Michael McPhearson said, “Veterans’ deaths and secret waiting lists uncovered by the current round of Veteran Administration scrutiny are tragic and outrageous, but come as no surprise to Veterans For Peace. This abuse is nothing new. For more than a decade, since the first service members returned from Afghanistan and Iraq,VFP has called for adequate attention, healthcare and services for returning veterans.” Presidents Bush and Obama, Congress and military leaders then and today claim they will do more, yet the problems continue to grow and more service members and veterans fall through cracks and gaping holes in the system, with many of them dying.

But this latest scandal is really the tip of issues plaguing an abused military force. For more than eight years, Veterans For Peace has called into question military policies and culture that put both men and women in danger of sexual assault and rape. There are countless well documented cases of service members reporting abuse and facing retaliation for reporting; thus many others do not report at all. There are well documented reports of female soldiers in Iraq refusing to drink water because they were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they went to use the women’s latrine after dark. Many cases of assault have been swept aside or under-investigated. Yet today women and men continue to face growing rates of sexual assault in the face of ineffective responses by the Pentagon and political leaders.

“The suicide crisis among veterans and service members continues to grow. Veterans For Peace has called attention to this issue at least since our 2006 Veterans and Survivors March for Peace and Justice from Mobile, Alabama to New Orleans, Louisiana. Calling for an end to the wars and for the money used for war to be diverted to human needs, we highlighted the similar rates of high unemployment, PTSD and suicide among recent veterans and Hurricane Katrina survivors. Suicide was heavy on participants’ minds as we had recently lost Douglas Barber, an Iraq veteran, to suicide,” McPhearson commented.

There is a clear pattern of neglect of veterans by both Democrats and Republicans. The best evidence of the negligence is a decade of war that has failed in its objective to end or reduce terrorism as outlined in this year’s State Department’s annual report on global terrorism. The report released in April showed a worldwide increase of 43% in 2013. Yet we have service members who have undertaken multiple tours, some up to ten times, like Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg. The standing ovation and pats on the back during this year’s State Union saluting his service do little if anything to help him contend with a broken mind and body, caused by broken and immoral polices controlled by the people who celebrated him. Perhaps more debilitating to many service members is the moral injury produced by the immoral nature of the wars they execute, exemplified by indefinite detention, torture, indiscriminate killing and targeted assassinations.

As troops and veterans die, who benefits from these policies? War profiteers make out like bandits and politicians build their political careers. The primary reason for these wars are greed and pursuit of power. The war economy is not working for the vast majority of U.S. citizens. To repeat our mantra since 2003, coined with Military Families Speak Out, “Bring our troops home now and take care of them when they get here.”

 

Soldiers Speak Our on Memorial Day: Remember Sgt. Kirkland! May 30, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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No

more deaths from Wall Street’s wars!’

In
their own words
SSG
Kevin Baker

Our
lives do not matter to the officers and politicians in charge. Those who mocked
Kirkland, and the doctors who neglected him still go unpunished. They are going
on with their lives while Kirkland’s family is without their loved one. But
Kirkland’s case is not isolated. The abusive behavior that is thrown onto us is
organic to the military; it is organic because this military fights for a lie.
We in March Forward! will fight for justice for Kirkland and all other soldiers
with PTSD, but we will also fight to make sure no more of us are traumatized in
the first place by being sent to these wars based on lies. I demand justice for
Kirkland and an immediate end to these wars for profit.

SPC
Joseph Chroniger

My
good friend Derrick Kirkland was deployed to Iraq and was going through more
than just a difficult time. He was found in his room in Iraq with a shotgun in
his mouth about to pull the trigger. Derrick was sent home, and attempted
suicide on that day as well. Upon reaching Fort Lewis he was hospitalized, and
almost immediately cleared for active duty. When he reported to rear detachment
he was met with more hatred than malcontent. There where numerous people in the
room when he was humiliated and basically beat down emotionally. Not three days
later Derrick hung himself in the barracks room that he was given by himself.
Let me repeat: my suicidal friend was give a room in the barracks to himself.
There are many more instances of what I would call more that misconduct that I
have witnessed while in the service of this Battalion, and want to speak out. I
demand justice for Kirkland and his family.

SPC
Andrew Bussy

There
is a serious problem with the US Army medical care system. The problem is not
with financial coverage, as most any visit to the doctor is paid for, but with
the quality of care and of the many stigmas which are attached to seeking
treatment. Physicians prescribe medicines which only mask the symptoms, but if a
condition is not immediately life-threatening it goes unaddressed until it
worsens. Sadly, when a suicidal soldier’s situation “worsens,” he is dead; When
a soldier with a spinal injury “worsens,” he is irrevocably paralyzed. These are
the end results when our only goal for wounded soldiers is to get them back to
work. I demand justice for Kirkland and all wounded soldiers.

SPC
Cary Ellis

Our
Chain of Command made fun of Kirkland in front of everyone, saying “he can’t
take it” and was “a horrible soldier.” They never cared or attempted to help,
they put him in a room by himself. Regulation states that if a soldier attempts
suicide he should have a roommate, but they said it was just him “wanting
attention” and “there’s nothing wrong.” They wanted to clear him and send him
back to duty. I demand justice for Kirkland and accountability for those
responsible for his death.

Anonymous
Staff Sergeant

I’ve
been deployed to Iraq three times, once with Kirkland. Shortly after I came back
from my first tour I was diagnosed with PTSD, sleeping disorder and night
horrors. All the doctor did was give me three different medications, one for
each symptom. After more deployments, all they did was gave me pills of all
colors. I demand justice for Kirkland, and I demand that nobody else be put
through what we’ve been through.

The following is a statement from veterans and
active-duty troops in the organization March
Forward!
, an affiliate of the ANSWER Coalition.

On Memorial Day, we are asked to remember those who
have died in Washington’s wars. Of course, we’re only asked to remember the
lives of U.S. troops; the lives of civilians killed in the current wars are
supposed to not exist. As veterans, we know the human toll all too well, and
cannot forget the more than one million innocent Iraqis, and the tens of
thousands of Afghans, including an entire home just obliterated yesterday by
NATO that killed ten children–cut from life before it had even begun.

In the United States, there are many families who
will be mourning a loved one this Memorial Day: over 6,000 U.S. troops have been
killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past ten years. That number is climbing by
the day as casualties hit record numbers in the hopeless Afghanistan war, and
troops continue to be killed in the “ended” Iraq war.

Donate
today to March Forward! Support a movement of anti-war veterans and service
members.

But what this government doesn’t want us to remember
is the record number of troops who have lost their lives to suicide. They, too,
are victims of the U.S. military’s wars. Over the past two years, more
active-duty troops have killed themselves than have been killed in combat.
Outside the military, veterans commit suicide at a rate of 18 per day.

This epidemic is the result of criminally negligent
mental health care from the U.S. military and Veterans Affairs—but no matter how
much the mental health care system is improved, it doesn’t stop the constant
flow of thousands of young people who are sent to be traumatized in the first
place in two imperial wars. A recent study found that now 80 percent of soldiers
and Marines have witnessed a friend killed or wounded in combat. Morale is down
the drain.

Under these conditions, the wave of suicides can only
get worse.

Active-duty troops are standing up and fighting back.
This Memorial Day, let’s remember those killed by the U.S. government’s actions,
and honor those who are memorializing a fellow soldier by speaking out and
fighting to punish those responsible for his death.

Sgt. Derrick Kirkland, from 4-9 Infantry at Fort
Lewis, Wash., deployed to Iraq twice. He was rated a “low risk” for suicide
after three consecutive suicide attempts, was publicly ridiculed for seeking
help by his superiors, then placed in a barracks room alone in violation of Army
regulations. Days later he killed himself, on March 19, 2010.

Kirkland’s mother, Mary Corkhill, told March
Forward!: “the Army has massively failed him … I am very angry at the Army and I
feel they killed my son.”

Click
here to read the powerful interview with Sgt. Kirkland’s mother.

March Forward! members in 4-9 Infantry immediately
sprung into action upon his death to expose those responsible. They have been
heroically organizing and speaking out. They are still working today to expose
Sgt. Kirkland’s case and the criminal treatment given to all troops, and to
organize against the wars.

You can help their voices be heard by signing their
petition and circulating their statements widely.

Click
here to sign the petition demanding justice for Sgt. Kirkland.

Help build the campaign to win justice for Sgt.
Kirkland, to hold the government accountable for their mistreatment of
traumatised soldiers, and to end the wars!

For more on the Kirkland
campaign:

Click
to read the original statement March Forward! members circulated in the barracks
after Kirkland’s death.

Click
to read a speech given on the anniversary of Kirkland’s death.

Click
to read the interview with Kirkland’s mother.

http://www2.answercoalition.org/site/R?i=bI8d6a9uK0Z_qEThPWzsAg..