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Four Color Politics

Mainly the Quotes of the Morning, with occasional Other Crap.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Quotes of the Morning: Supporting the Troops - American Style

“Well, Iraq doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Our troops are wearing thin. Some of our National Guard divisions have been assigned multiple times (up to four) for combat duty in Iraq. It isn’t good, and it is apparently going to get tougher on the troops soon, as Fearless Leader has decided to escalate the War on Terror… um, I mean the War on Drugs… um, I guess I mean the War on Hispanics (since I sure as heck know I don’t mean the War on Poverty) to the next level and send the troops out to battle the most dangerous foe this nation has ever seen: The poor, the tired, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

“President Bush will call for thousands of National Guard troops to be deployed along the Mexico border in support of patrols aimed at keeping out illegal immigrants, White House officials said Sunday on the eve of an Oval Office address announcing the plan.
White House aides worked into the night Sunday to iron out details of the proposal and allay concerns among lawmakers that using troops to man the border would further burden an overextended military.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said he supported using the National Guard on the Mexican border. He said lawmakers who doubt that the National Guard, whose members have served for years in Iraq and went to the Gulf Coast after last summer’s hurricanes, could take on border patrol duty are ‘whining’ and ‘moaning.’”
-Associated Press, May 15, 2007

“Now you may say that it is short sighted to stretch the National Guard any further. You may think that adding another front to the War to Cause Fear is a bad move. You may remember this article from last week regarding military recruiting…”

“Jared Guinther is 18. Tall and lanky, he will graduate from high school in June. Girls think he's cute, until they try to talk to him and he stammers or just stands there -- silent. Diagnosed with autism at age 3, Jared is polite but won't talk to people unless they address him first. It's hard for him to make friends. He lives in his own private world.

Jared didn't know there was a war raging in Iraq until his parents told him last fall -- shortly after a military recruiter stopped him outside a Portland strip mall and complimented his black Converse All-Stars.
‘When Jared first started talking about joining the Army, I thought, `Well, that isn't going to happen,’’ said Paul Guinther, Jared's father. ‘I told my wife not to worry about it. They're not going to take anybody in the service who's autistic.’
But they did. Last month, Jared came home with papers showing that he had not only enlisted, but signed up for the Army's most dangerous job: cavalry scout. He is scheduled to leave for basic training Aug. 16.”
-Newhouse News Service, May 7, 2006

“But don’t worry… Like everything else that this Administration does, it can get worse.”

“U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors have been aware of signs of mental illness, a newspaper reported in its Sunday editions.
The Hartford Courant, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating and evacuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq.
Although Defense Department standards for enlistment disqualify recruits who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the military also is redeploying service members to Iraq who fit that criteria, the newspaper said.
‘I can't imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal,’ said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a New York-based advocacy group. ‘You're creating chemically activated time bombs.’
Commanders, not medical professionals, have final say over whether a troubled soldier is retained in a war zone. Col. Elspeth Ritchie, the Army's top mental health expert, and other military officials said they believe most commanders are alert to mental health problems and are open to referring troubled soldiers for treatment.
Ritchie acknowledged that some deployment practices, such as sending service members diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome back into combat, have been driven in part by a troop shortage.”
-Associated Press, May 13, 2006

“Eight months ago, Staff Sgt. Bryce Syverson, of Richmond, Va., was so unsteady that doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center wouldn't let him wear socks or a belt. Syverson, 27, had landed in the psychiatric unit after a breakdown that doctors traced to his 15-month tour in Iraq as a gunner on a Bradley fighting vehicle. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, and was put on suicide watch and antidepressants.

Today, Syverson is back in the combat zone, part of a quick-reaction force in Kuwait that could be deployed at any time.
But he hasn't quite managed to get his bearings.
Nearly died … out here on a nice and really mild night because of the medication that I am taking,’ he wrote in a recent e-mail to his parents and brothers. ‘Head about to explode from the blood swelling inside, the lightening storm that happened in my head, the blurred vision, confusion, dizziness and a whole lot more. Not the best feeling in the entire world to have after being here for two days.’
Dr. Arthur S. Blank Jr., a psychiatrist who helped to get post-traumatic stress disorder recognized as a diagnosis after the Vietnam War, said: ‘I'm concerned that people who are symptomatic are being sent back. That has not happened before in our country.’"
-LA Times, May 14, 2006

“Now ask yourselves this… Which one scares you more: The idea that these poor mentally ill soldiers are being sent back out into combat situations armed with guns and attitude, or that someday they are all going to be coming home to your community, and no one will have helped them?”

“The Pentagon has referred for further treatment only 22 percent of the soldiers it found in danger of developing post-traumatic stress disorder, a government report due out today says.
That means nearly eight out of 10 soldiers possibly at risk for the disorder were left to cope on their own.
The study by the Government Accountability Office said officials with the Department of Defense did not explain how they determined whether at-risk soldiers received further evaluation for combat stress or other mental health problems.
‘As a result, DOD cannot provide reasonable assurance’ that all of the Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers who needed more treatment got it, the GAO said in a draft of its report obtained by The Kansas City Star.
A Pentagon spokesman said he had not yet seen the report and could not comment. Veterans groups reacted swiftly.
‘We want to know how the secretary of defense has allowed this to happen,’ said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of the nonpartisan Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, who also led an infantry platoon in Iraq. ‘Untreated PTSD and bad followup by DOD can have this country repeating many of the same mistakes the government made during the Vietnam War. PTSD can lead to homelessness, suicide and crime.’”
-Kansas City Star, May 11, 2006

“Now remember that about half of the soldiers in Iraq are National Guard. Sure, let’s give them their guns again and tell them to patrol a desert looking for ‘brown’ people. That won’t cause anything bad to happen.”


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