Category Archives: Uncategorized

Whose Side is Netanyahu On?

I watched the Prime Minister of Israel,Mr. Netanyayu’s entire speech on C-Span tonight. Never have I seen such a exhibition of disdain and irresponsible bellicosity that embodies the very taunts that troubles his nations security with Palestine. On how many playgrounds of war can you prop up your bully behavior without our grandchildren coming to your defense? Tell us where our United States sovereignty is at stake here. Tell us how this falls into the Just War doctrine.
The Ambassador from Jordan made a declaration of uncommon honesty on a recent Charlie Rose show, by stating, “this is our war.” “We need to clean up the hijacking of the Islamic faith.” Why did this get no ink in the Main Stream Media? Are they quietly complicitous in the intractable war machine? How has the production and distribution of oil to the Western world been extricated from all dialogues?
Does anyone recall the often quoted tirades of Bin Laden in 2002 leading up to our invasion in March of 2003? Most all of our broadcast news outlets ran his quotes over and over again to get us juiced up. He boasted, ” I will destroy your western financial markets as we did to Russia in Afghanistan.” So, is not the clear and present danger the breaking of the bank by maxing our budgetary tolerance while sacrificing nearly all viable job creation and infrastructure inside the United States? Does anyone recall that this caveat was at one time the dominant position of the seminal John Birch Society? This being the very reason to this day that they are adamant about vacating our unity with the United Nations. I am not of this ilk, however the warnings of the early Bircher’s is now prophecy in action, and the breaking of our bank with all the collective costs of war, inclusive of 35 billion dollars paid out annually to disabled veterans, is a tactic that unfolds as we sleep.

What is the tipping point for our war abacus? Are not the weapons of mass destruction the tens of thousands of traumatic head injuries from IED’s sent home one at a time? Sort of slow drip torture on both morale and the long term obligation to care for those who borne the battle. Are not the bad guys as much as interested draining our financial resources as much as battlefield victories? Did not the stalemate in Korea and the evacuation of Saigon teach us anything?
It seems that the learning curve for asymmetrical warfare is begging for attention.
Knowing that the track record of the last 50 years of Generals has not exactly been luminous, I would add my humble observation as an in the dirt Marine grunt squad leader.
The theatrics of Mr. Netanyahu have not a damn thing to do with Iran. The Hezbollah and Hamas are sitting on his border with rockets aimed at Tel Aviv. His conspicuous by absence mention of Palestine did not pass muster. He wants some help being a bully, but with impunity. He wants us to pony up our boys for a showdown with Palestine.
Why not speculate,no one including our own military Sanhedrin have ever guessed right yet in the Middle East since 1967.
Lets call the old owl Henry Kissinger and see if he can get one right.

Blog Merging

When the shut down operations last year, I thought all my posts were lost in cyberspace. My daughter and her boyfriend and my son, found and salvaged them. I got the whole 5 years of blogging as a Fathers Day gift. Very sweet. However, I began another blog by the same name, Veteran Veritas, with a different log in name. Does anyonw know how to merge two Word Press platforms?

Best Fathers Day for “A Man In Full”

On Fathers Day in Santa Monica with my wife, Lydia, son, Ryan and daugther, Heather, they had me cozy up to them on the couch to open my gifts and to peek at the laptop sitting on the coffee table. Boom, there are all of the posts from the “,” where Veteran Veritas had its origin in June of 2009, until the sudden and perfunctory closing of the site by Gannett news on January 31st, 2o14. I thought for sure all of our archives were gone. But no, my wonderful kids and my daughters significant other, Nigel, found them and created this Blog as a gift. I cried. So here we go, on the next round of blogesphere adventure.

Thank You American Legion For Dogging Those Enviromental Exposures

The following is a portion of the testimony presented by American Legion National Commander Jimmie L Foster and addresses Veteran disabilities due to environmental exposures.
The full testimony can be found at the following weblink:
Please distribute to your members.

American Legion National Commander Fiscal Year 2012 Testimony For the Department of Veteran’s Affairs

By Jimmie L Foster, National Commander

Excerpt: Veterans Disabilities due to Environmental Exposures:


The American Legion believes that major epidemiological studies of Vietnam veterans who were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange are long overdue. In the early 1980s, Congress held hearings on the need for such epidemiological studies.  When VA was unable to accomplish the task, the responsibility was passed to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  In 1986, CDC also abandoned the project, asserting that a study could not be conducted based on available records.

The American Legion did not give up.  Three separate panels of the National Academy of Sciences have agreed with The American Legion and concluded that CDC was wrong and that epidemiological studies based on DoD records are possible.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, Characterizing Exposure of Veterans to Agent Orange and Other Herbicides Used in Vietnam, is based on the research conducted by a Columbia University team.  The team has developed a powerful method for characterizing exposure to herbicides in Vietnam.  The American Legion is proud to have collaborated in this research effort.  In its final report on the study, the IOM urgently recommends that epidemiological studies be undertaken now that an accepted exposure methodology is available.  The American Legion strongly endorses this IOM report.


The American Legion strongly supports the extension of presumption of exposure to Agent Orange for veterans who served on naval vessels located in the territorial waters of Vietnam (known as Blue Water Navy veterans) but did not set foot on land in Vietnam.

The IOM, in Update 2008, specifically stated that the evidence it reviewed makes the current definition of Vietnam service, for the purpose of presumption of exposure to Agent Orange, limited to those who actually set foot on land in Vietnam “seem inappropriate.”  Citing an Australian study on the fate of the contaminant TCDD when sea water is distilled to produce drinking water, the IOM committee stated that it was convinced that such a process would produce a feasible route of exposure for Blue Water veterans, “which might have been supplemented by drift from herbicide spraying.”  (See IOM, Veterans and Agent Orange, Update 2008, p. 564; July 24, 2009)  The IOM also noted that a 1990 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a classic Agent Orange cancer, was more prevalent and significant among Blue Water Navy veterans. The IOM subsequently recommended that, given all of the available evidence, Blue Water Navy veterans should not be excluded from the group of Vietnam-era veterans presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange/herbicides.

The American Legion submits that not only does this latest IOM report fully support the extension of presumption of Agent Orange exposure to Blue Water Navy veterans, it provides scientific justification to the legislation currently pending in Congress that seeks to correct this grave injustice faced by Blue Water Navy veterans. The American

Legion at its 2010 National Convention approved Resolution 88 identifying service in the Republic of Vietnam includes “those who served in the territorial waters offshore.”


The American Legion is also extremely concerned about the timely disclosure and release of all information by DoD on the use and testing of herbicides in locations other than Vietnam during the war.  Over the years, The American Legion has represented veterans who claim to have been exposed to herbicides in places other than Vietnam.  Without official acknowledgement by the Federal government of the use of herbicides, proving such exposure is virtually impossible.  Information has come to light in the last few years leaving no doubt that Agent Orange, and other herbicides contaminated with dioxin, were released in locations other than Vietnam.  This information is slowly being disclosed by DoD and provided to VA. In April 2001, officials from DoD briefed VA on the use of Agent Orange along the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) from April 1968 through July 1969.  It was applied through hand spraying and by hand distribution of pelletized herbicides to defoliate the fields of fire between the front line defensive positions and the south barrier fence.  The size of the treated area was a strip 151 miles long and up to 350 yards from the fence to north of the civilian control line.  According to available records, the effects of the spraying were sometimes observed as far as 200 meters downwind. DoD identified the units that were stationed along the DMZ during the period in which the spraying took place.  This information was given to VA’s Compensation and Pension Service, which provided it to all of the regional offices.  VA Central Office has instructed its Regional Offices to concede exposure for veterans who served in the identified units during the period the spraying took place.

In January 2003, DoD provided VA with an inventory of documents containing brief descriptions of records of herbicides used at specific times and locations outside of Vietnam.  The information, unlike the information on the Korean DMZ, does not contain units’ involved or individual identifying information.  Also, according to VA, this information is incomplete, reflecting only 70 to 85 percent of herbicide use, testing and disposal locations outside of Vietnam.  VA requested that DoD provide it with information regarding the units involved with herbicide operations or other information that may be useful to place veterans at sites where herbicide operations or testing was conducted. Unfortunately, as of this date, additional information has not been provided by DoD.

Obtaining the most accurate information available concerning possible exposure is extremely important for the adjudication of herbicide-related disability claims of veterans claiming exposure outside of Vietnam.  For herbicide-related disability claims, veterans who served in Vietnam during the period of January 9, 1962 to May 7, 1975 are presumed by law to have been exposed to Agent Orange.  Veterans claiming exposure to herbicides outside of Vietnam are required to submit proof of exposure.  This is why it is crucial that all information pertaining to herbicide use, testing, and disposal in locations other than Vietnam be released to VA in a timely manner.

The IOM subsequently recommended that, given all of the available evidence, Blue Water Navy veterans should not be excluded from the group of Vietnam-era veterans presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange/herbicides.

Congressional oversight is needed to ensure that additional information identifying involved personnel or units for the locations already known by VA is released by DoD, as well as all relevant information pertaining to other locations that have yet to be identified.  Locating this information and providing it to VA must be a national priority.  The American Legion endorses both the 2006 and 2008 IOM reports and strongly urges VA to make a timely decision on its recommendations and provide timely notification of the decision to add or not add to the presumptive list. The ongoing and lengthy process witnessed during the addition of the three new presumptive conditions associated with Agent Orange, ischemic heart disease, Parkinson’s

disease, and b-cell leukemias such as “hairy cell leukemia” has illustrated the need for better coordination between VA, the veterans’ community and Congress.  There is an excellent system already in place by law to provide for the addition of new presumptive conditions.  The science evaluation performed by the IOM has been proven to be

sound and thorough.  Where VA evaluates this information and chooses to add new presumptive conditions, the process should not reflect endless months of delays and debate, but should move forward swiftly.

In order to facilitate a better understanding of this process, more clarity and transparency may be required.  Why, for example, does VA determine one portion of an IOM report to be valid for finding of a presumption of service connection, yet disregard other portions of the IOM findings, such as the analysis of the Australian Naval Study which

recognized the link between Blue Water Naval Service and the exposure to Agent Orange?  When questions are raised as to why VA has determined that the IOM findings suggest a connection, there should be clear guidance as to what standard is being objectively used, so that no questions as to the integrity of the process can arise. The process, when supported by sound science, should not consist of a yearlong cycle of bickering.  The law clearly states a period of deadlines for the publication of new regulations.  These regulations must be adhered to, and the criteria by which the Department of Veterans’ Affairs determines the necessity to add a new presumptive condition must be clear, so that future delays to veterans can be avoided.

The American Legion has long fought for the veterans of Vietnam to be justly treated for the after effects of their exposure to Agent Orange. Congress and VA must discover a way to more efficiently execute the process of the addition of new presumptive conditions, so that years of long delays no longer plague veterans in their quest for benefits.


In the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illness (RACGWI) initial report released in November 2004, it was found that, for a large majority of affected Gulf War veterans, their illnesses could not be explained by stress or psychiatric illness and concluded that current scientific evidence supports a probable link between neurotoxin exposure and subsequent development of Gulf War veterans’ illnesses.  Earlier government panels concluded that deployment-related stress, not the numerous environmental and other exposures troops were exposed to during the war, was likely responsible for the numerous unexplained symptoms reported by thousands of Gulf War veterans. The Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses released their most recent report November 2008.  In the report, the committee concluded that Gulf War Illness is a physical condition.  The report indicates that Gulf War Illness is a serious condition that affects at least one fourth of the 697,000 U.S. veterans who served in the 1990-1991 Gulf War.  The panel also determined that Gulf War Illness fundamentally differs from trauma and stress-related syndromes described after other wars.

Studies have indicated that Gulf War veterans have a lower rate of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) than veterans of other wars.  Upon review of extensive scientific evidence, the committee determined that two neurotoxin exposures are causally associated with Gulf War Illness: a drug given to service members to protect them from nerve gas known as pyridostigmine bromide (PB) pills and pesticides used during deployment.

The science evaluation performed by the IOM has been proven to be sound and thorough.  Where VA evaluates this information and chooses to add new presumptive conditions, the process should not reflect endless months of delays and debate, but should move forward swiftly.

The American Legion strongly supports this report and urges the VA Secretary to act quickly on the committee’s recommendations. In addition, VA must continue to fund research projects consistent with the recommendations of the RACGWI.  VA must continue to fund research projects consistent with the recommendations of the RACGWI.  It is important that VA continues to focus its research on finding medical treatments that will alleviate veterans’ suffering as well as on figuring out the causes of that suffering.  Although veterans can file claims for these ailments and possibly gain access to the health care system once a disability percentage rate is granted, those whose claims are denied cannot enroll.  Unfortunately, the denial rate for Gulf War undiagnosed illness claims is approximately 75 percent. Due to their nature, these illnesses are difficult to understand and information about individual exposures may not be available, many ill veterans are not able to present strong claims.  They are then forced to seek care from private physicians who may not have enough information about Gulf War Veterans’ illnesses to provide appropriate care. VA published its comments on the IOM’s Gulf War and Health, Volume 2: Insecticides and Solvents report, released in February 2003 in the Federal Register.

The Department decided not to establish a presumption of service connection for any diseases, illnesses or health effects considered in the report, based on exposure to insecticides or solvents during service in the Persian Gulf during the Persian Gulf War.  Many of VA’s justifications for not establishing presumption mirror the reasons why ill Gulf War veterans have problems justifying their claims.  The IOM report notes that little information is known about the use of solvents in the theater. VA notes that veterans may still be granted service connection, if evidence indicates an association between their diseases and their exposures. This places the burden of proof on Gulf War veterans to prove their exposures and that the level of exposure is sufficient enough to warrant service connection. IOM and VA have acknowledged that there is insufficient information on the use of the identified solvents and pesticides during the Gulf War.

VA’s interpretation is that Congress did not intend VA to establish presumptions for known health effects of all substances common to military and civilian life, but that it should focus on the unique exposure environment in the Persian Gulf during the war. The IOM was commissioned to ascertain long-term health effects of service in the Persian Gulf during the war, based on exposures associated with service in theater during the war as identified by Congress, not exposures unique to the Southwest Asia Theater. The determination to not grant presumption for the ailments identified should be based solely on the research findings, not on the legitimacy of the exposures identified by Congress. The IOM has a similar charge to address veterans who served in Vietnam during the war. Herbicides were not unique to the operations in the Southeast Asia theater of conflict and there had not been, until recently, a definitive idea of the amounts of herbicides to which service members had been exposed.  Peer-reviewed, occupational studies are evaluated to make recommendations on which illnesses are associated with exposure the herbicides—and their components known to be used in theater.  For ailments that demonstrate sufficient evidence of a causal relationship, sufficient evidence of an association, and limited evidence of an association, the Secretary may consider presumption. Gulf War and Health Volume 2 identifies several illnesses in these categories.  However, the VA Secretary determined that presumption is not warranted. VA needs to clearly define what type of information is required to determine possible health effects, for example, any clarification of guidance or mandate for the research.

VA also needs to ensure that its charge to the IOM is specific enough to help it make determinations about presumptive illnesses.  VA noted that neither the report, nor the studies considered for the report identified increased risk of disease based on episodic exposures o insecticides or solvents and that the report states no conclusion whether any of the diseases are associated with “less than chronic exposure,” possibly indicating a lack of data to make a determination.  If this was necessary, it should have been clearly identified.

Finally, Section 1118, title 38, United States Code  mandates how the VA Secretary should respond to the recommendations made in the IOM reports.  The VA Secretary is required to make a determination of whether or not a presumption for service connection is warranted for each illness covered in the report no later than 60 days after the date the report is received. Persian Gulf War and Health, Volume 2 was released in 2003, four years ago.  VA has yet to publish its determination on those reports as well. The American Legion urges VA to provide clarity in the charge for the IOM reports. The VA must identify what type of information is needed to make determinations of presumption of service connection for illnesses that may be associated with service in the Gulf during the war.

The American Legion urges VA to request clarification from Congress on the intent of the phrase “known or presumed to be associated with service in the Armed Forces in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War.” Additionally to obtain clarification from the IOM committee concerning missing information as possible, and re-evaluate the findings of the IOM report with the clarification provided. The American Legion also urges Congress to provide oversight to ensure VA provides timely responses to the recommendations made in the IOM reports.
God Bless
Jose M. Garcia
Past National Commander
Catholic War Veterans,USA
Better to understand a little than to misunderstand a lot.
In God We Trust

Alan Simpson Is One Lost Soul

I  had to take a half day to collect enough balance of mind to even speak of this man Simpson.

This dude who has been slamming Vietnam Veterans for forty years! Simpson now suggests that upon the announcement of true and compassionate care for men who were sprayed with chemicals; Agent Orange/Dioxin, that they may not being doing enough for their country by accepting disability benefits.  Holy crap, that is bold.  The emotion and enmity that wells up in response to this troll can only be released on a mountain top, not in polite company.

To join the siren cry of veterans across the nation who are asking for his ouster is way to cliche. I would like to see this cowardly man who  served only one year in the Army, a mystery to this day, be marched out in front of every victim of Agent Orange, who is living. That would be me. He could then sit in his local church auditorium while we host the families of all our warriors who died of  Agent Orange exposure. Chemicals folks, chemicals made and sprayed on us by our own Dow Chemical!

I would not ask him to resign, too light for this big wide Wyoming Worm.  I would mandate that his penance, which is never meted out for this smart aleck, be to wear an Orange Letter on his outer clothing for the next year.  His very own Scarlett letter of  shame.

Years ago, this Senator who is some odd form of GI Joe wanna-be, used to refer to the Vietnam Veteran as a “professional veterans.” He was peeved that we fought so hard for our health care rights and attention to disabling illnesses, including the diagnosis of PTSD being officially included in the DSM, (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Psychiatry), in 1980.  He must be mad that they did not include his own psychiatric illness—interminable sick sarcasm, like last weeks comment about social security being a cow with 310  million tits.  Who is this man? How can he speak like this with impunity?

I wonder what he sacrificed in his generational Rosie the Riveter heart, for this last seven years of war in Iraq and ten in Afghanistan?  Is his lifetime free health care helping America balance the budget?  Maybe he should pay back his GI Bill benefits he used to get his JD.  Possibly the only reason for serving in the Army for one year?

This man has been about Corporate conquest and tax cuts for the top 2% his entire life. Are they sacrificing to pay for this war?

Maybe we could forgo paying for the disabilities and financial malfeasance of Halliburton, KBR and Blackwater, so as to have some chump change left over for a wheel chair for a veteran dying of Agent Orange.

Maybe the private contractors  making a quarter million each in tax free dollars could tithe, so as to pay for some medication for the veteran dying of lymphoma and leukemia.

Maybe Boeing and Dow Chemical could set up a fund to pay for the hospital visits at the VA. Just like the way you want to privatize Social Security.

With the exception of his most bizzare and shocking support for gays in the Military in 2007, he has been no friend of veterans. Makes you wonder why he lent his support for the gays? May have something to do with his dislike for tits.

Patriots support soldiers, Simpson supports the Military Industrial Complex, not the warrior. Shameful.

Since the man never saw a day of combat, I am suggesting that his service on the Armed Services Committee was some form of  compensatory guilt that  leaks out periodically with his very macabre brand of  “Freudian slips.” One thing is for sure, when he leaks, he lets us know his true self— a lost sad soul.

See you at Christmas Senator Simpson, we will hand deliver your Orange Sweater.

Islam, Muslims And Marines: Isn't It Ironic?

Isn’t it ironic that our Armed Forces spend all their waking hours hunting down bad guys in Afghanistan and Iraq, while we are training civilian security forces and a nubile Army to be our allies in hunting down the bad guys? We are training Muslims.

With the assistance of anthropologists, psychologists,(black ops ones), linguists and bankers and civilian security specialists, we as liberators are spending billions of dollars to win the hearts and minds of  two Muslim nations while we await our government in a kit program to take hold. Is it not ironic that we need the Muslim people to free the Muslims from the Muslims?

As a Marine, I know our military history has been defined as being liberators not an occupation force. Now, declassified documents will show that the rather sudden deployment of 5000 Marines, about four years ago, was at the bequest of the Marine Command  who were concerned that the Cheney-Rumsfeld  directives were tipping in the direction of occupation forces in Iraq, and loosing sight of the hunt for the bad guys, whose stronghold was and is known to be the mountains of Afghanistan. This edgy occupation stuff was seen as a violation of a long Marine Corps tradition of getting in and out. With one tactical exception, which was to win the hearts and minds of the common people of Iraq. Meaning literally make friends with a Muslim nation.  Given the scene here at home, a bit ironic eh?

The tactic of winning the hearts and minds was created and promulgated inside the Marine Corps, by General Krulak during the Vietnam War. Combined Actions Platoons they were called; CAP Units. Marines were picked to live in the villages and provide security while weeding out the terrorists, (yes we called them terrorists then too), who were embedded in the civilian population. I was assigned to a CAP Unit in 1968 as security. I know well the merits of the program and the dark side, 82% died. We were heading that way in Iraq, like the Vietnamazation program it would have taken decades to refine. No tolerance for that. And the Marines were not in the game of being an occupation force. The irony? We used to say we were saving the Vietnamese from the Vietnamese.  Now we are their trading partner. Us and the happy Communists. Irony number 3.

Fast forward to 2010. Isn’t it ironic that we pour billions into four nations to help save the Muslims from the Muslims?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our soldiers are returning home to a rising crescendo of extremism that is of the ilk of hatred and insidious racism they just spent 2-4 tours of combat to abate.

Not so long ago we trained Iranian pilots at Davis Monthan Air Force Base. They were Muslim. We train Pakistani pilots and sell them F-16’s. They are Muslim.

We are leaving 50,000 troops,( we always leave 50,ooo, Germany, Korea,), and an undisclosed number of private contractors, men with guns, to complete the training of the marginal security force and the Army of Iraq. They are Muslim.

We built the largest embassy in the history of the United States in Baghdad, so as to have peaceful relations with the Muslim world.

We are spending more money than the GDP of  Afghanistan to train their security and Army. They are Muslim.

We are deeply in debt to Saudi Arabia, who hold 11% of our national debt. They are Muslim.

Poor General Petraeus  is trying to quell the transition strains of 13 Centuries of Suni rule,with the solicitation and support of the local Muslim people, while the psychiatric aberrancy of hatred for the same people in America escalates. Isn’t it ironic?

Germany, Japan, Russia, France, Mexico, England, Vietnam, China and of course the Native Americans, have all been enemies of our State at one time. All were targets of hate and demonization.  Isn’t it ironic that everyone of these nations is now a trading partner or a creditor of the United States.  And the beat goes on.

Where are we headed, another Inquisition?  T.S Elliot once said, “how much reality can humankind handle?” I might say, how much hate can a nation absorb?

It is still, to this day, hard to imagine that an angry contingent tried to say that Roosevelt was a Jew and therefore could not be trusted. Two lies in one,and,thank God, would now be considered a hate crime.

It was not that long ago, that Catholics scared the crap out of WASP America.  Rome, Rum and Rebellion was the siren cry.” Look out for Popery.” they would say. Those Catholics are trying to take over America!

“Its like rain on your wedding day/ It’s a free ride,when you’ve already paid/ Its the good advice that you just didn’t take/ Who would’ve thought…it figures/ Isn’t ironic?

-Alanis Morisette

Is not war the cruelest irony of all?

It seems that the ancient dictum, “anger eats the vessel that contains it,” is prophecy.   I do believe the Tower of Babel has arrived. God save the children.

Suicide Rates Still Climbing

Suicides in the Armed Forces and the National Guard  and Reserves are still alarmingly on the rise. With all the due diligence and immense outreach that is ongoing in all 50 States, we cannot seem to abate the savage spirit that invades and intrudes the soul of our young veterans of war.

Sixty-five members of the Guard and Reserve have taken their lives in the first six months of 2010. This figure does not include veterans or the Navy and Marines. Even more alarming.

We have an epidemic of mental health issues in the military that all best efforts are not touching. Or, they are, and the numbers could be larger were it not for the ubiquitous prevention programs both in and out of the Armed Forces.  Everyone in the veteran advocacy business is on the look out for the signs of depression and deep despair.

I am trained in crisis and suicide prevention work and remain constantly vigilant through my contacts and network of associates. We man 24  hour hot-lines and spend endless hours on the phone assuring our comrades, who have weathered the horrors of war, that there is light on the other side of those nightmares.  Yet so much is related to place and timing. So few ever seem to be around when that dreaded moment and savage god enters the picture.

Just this week a Wisconsin National Guard Soldier, Matthew Magdzas, a 23 year old married man took the life of his pregnant wife and his dogs and then ended his own mortal life.  Impulse or plan? Flashbacks or internal rage? Who in God’s name knows.  It is when the antecedent conditions are not apparent that we remain impotent in the realm of prevention.  And of course the victim and victims are generally unaware moments before the act. How is that to be prevented?

I have the experience of  7 suicides in my life. Four of them Vietnam Veterans. One of them was my roommate Joe Herman, who had the world on his side, talent, looks, money. And the demons of war intruded one night and put a bullet in his head.  Could I have prevented it? I say yes. But again, we are never there, right there, when needed. How can you be there before those one car accidents when the vet elects to just run off the road, as was the case in the years from 1975-90.

58,000 died in Vietnam. It has been reported by Pointman Ministries and other Veteran Outreach programs, that another 110,000 committed suicide during those years; twice the fatalities in the war.

32 soldiers including 11 in the Guard and Reserves took their own lives in the month of June. That is a rate of  one a day and at level only matched by the period after the Vietnam War.   How do we address this as a citizenry not a military? And mind you, those are figures for active duty, not veterans who have been discharged.

Are we, are we, our brothers keeper?  Are we able to even address in polite company such a taboo subject? Are the figures simply so daunting that we are just left in a numbness of mind that has no direction of home.  When it was reported back in 2008 that a full 50% of the suicides amongst veterans were in the ranks of the Reserve and the Guard, did they slow down the deployment of these young men and women until we got a grip on the nuances of the Guard traninng? No, we needed numbers, big numbers for the General’s, “Surges”, all of them.  And now they are surging home, and the ghosts of war are at our doorstep. In the last two articles I asked our readers if we are ready for a reception that may not be as rosy as we wish.

Is it possible to have every neighborhood trained and armed with a compassionate platoon of listeners and go-to people for times of distress? We cannot just live behind the bumper stickers of support. we have to have some feet…or cliche as it sounds, some boots on the ground. We need a “surge” of  families and friends who will be at the vets side in a heartbeat. The now running national TV advertisement with all the Medal of Honor recipients, beseeching the young soldiers to get help, as many of them acknowledge they wish they had done, is a laudable move in the right direction.

The trail into the woods of suicide is dark and booby trapped. No single hypothesis has ever touched the ambiguous and complex motives that lead to suicide. Literature is strewn with attempts to grapple with the under-belly of this human particular. From Judas Iscariot, to the writings of,  T.S. Elliot’s Wasteland, the Myth of Sisphus,  Sartre’s  “No Exit,” Soren  Kierkegaard’s concept of despair that surpasses all clinical definitions of depression, to the endless tomes of poetry from the Greek tragedies to the modern Sylvia Plath, no one has captured the monster in a cage for lengthy study. It is time to come out of the closet and dance with the demons of war. so as to escort them off the floor.

“The passion for destruction is also a creative passion.”  Michael Bakunin

The massive amount of material from sociologists and clinical psychiatrists only adds  to a pile of  documentation for professional journals and epidemiologists and not one iota of helpfulness for the layman. And most all of the research is ipso post facto. Prevention is vacant.

It may well be that no one wants to enter the shabby, chaotic, tortured and agonizing world of suicide.  With all of our revered Research Foundations and think tanks- the Heritages the Cato’s the Enterprise Institutes the Rand’s, et al, is there not a one of them that could  side-step long enough to research what is killing the souls of  our  young warriors?

Is this the arena for the Jeff Bazos and Bill Gates clan to direct their foundation monies?

Is the business of life and death to subconsciously abhorrent for study?

Life and death is the reason for war. One side must win. Suicide apparently elects to not take sides.

Only the dead know the end of war.

Lest We Forget

The Arizona Immigration Legislation has cast a long shadow over the working of our State. It’s merit will most likely find its own level. Since its enactment, I detect nothing in the MSM about the passing of the following very fine piece of legislation that is only being spoken of in small group conversations. Very few Veterans know of its passing.  I guess it is just not sensational enough to garner attention.

The journalistic cliche marches on, “you cannot tell a story about- there was no plane wreck today.”  Veterans affairs frequently fall into that column. Lip service on Holidays and then 360 days of  dreary news.

I want to say thanks one last time for the effort and the assertiveness it took to get this bill passed. These college educated veterans are the ones who will be leading us out of the morass created by decades of political narcissism and phony polarities. They did not fight for that!

The following is the presentation made by David Alegria to the Arizona House of Representatives.

Arizona House Bill 2350 Purple Heart; Tuition Waiver Becomes Law
April 23, 2010
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed historic legislation granting tuition waivers to Veterans who
were awarded the Purple Heart Medal, are 50% or more disabled, were residents of Arizona or
stationed in Arizona when they were wounded, and are otherwise qualified to attend a State
Community College or University.
The passage of House bill 2350 is historic because this is the first bill that has been passed by the
Arizona State Legislature that provides a State benefit specific to Combat Wounded Veterans.
While every politician finds it politically correct to proclaim support for the military soldier and for
veterans’ issues, the Governor and the Arizona State Legislature bellied up to the table and showed
their support in a concrete manner. The law now requires all State Community Colleges and
Universities to waive the tuition for all veterans meeting the criteria of this law.
In the forefront of this historic event was State Senator Frank Antenori. Senator Antenori introduced
the legislation as a member of the Arizona House of Representatives prior to his appointment to the
Arizona State Senate. Senator Antenori is a Gulf War Veteran and the leading advocate in the
Arizona Legislature for issues affecting members of the military and veterans. Military Order of the
Purple Heart Commander of the Tucson Chapter, David Alegria was the lone member of veterans
organization providing testimony before the House Education Committee and the Senate Committee
on Veterans and Military Affairs. There was not one vote cast by any legislator against this bill
during the committee hearings and roll call votes in both Chambers of the Arizona State Legislature.
Governor Jan Brewer, a staunch supporter of veterans issues, signed the bill into law without
The passage of House Bill 2350 is important for a number of reasons:
• Combat Wounded Veterans are having a difficult time collecting on the much promised
education benefits of the NEW G.!. Bill. The Veterans Administration says it is doing
the best it can, but processing problems still remain. Some of these veterans have
mobility issues due to their injuries and find it difficult to chase after the VA. Others,
just don’t want to take up another fight. Most of these veterans are part-time patients,
spending most of their free time at the veterans administration hospital clinics.
• Combat Wounded Veterans having difficult financial hardships will use the proceeds of
the NEW G.1. Bill to help house and feed their families. They then pay for their
education by taking out student loans.
• The NEW G.1. Bill permits veterans to transfer their education benefit to one of their
dependents. So far, 100,000 veterans have transferred their G.I Bill education benefits
to dependents. These wounded warriors are still looking out for others before
Our student veterans deserve this benefit and the State of Arizona has stepped up and provided the
necessary assistance. All of these veterans already paid for this benefit with their blood in some far
off land.
House Bill 2350: Purple Heart; Tuition Waiver
Tucson Citizen Article by Blogger/Writer Mike Brewer

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Summer Program/ Free To Veterans/ Welcome Home

This is good stuff. The Purple Mountain Institute is a non-profit organization established in 1999 to develop and bring programs, like this Mindfulness class, to special needs groups.

The curriculum and offering is from the heart of the Executive Director, Teri Davis, ND.

The Mindful Veterans Project, (MVP) is a PMI program to provide funding for vets and  their families to participate in the classes.  I was privileged to be able to participate in the last series. Not being one who believes in born again zappings or a make-over metamorphosis of the psyche, this course came close. It is often said, that everything is in the timing, so I may have just been ready for this brand of instruction. Never mind the analysis, it works, and it works like magic.

I suppose the validation and camaraderie that combat veterans experience when they gather contributed to the magical aspect, as we all have our very nuanced war induced stress issues to remove from our saddle.  At the end of eight weeks I felt like I could ride with the wind, without a saddle. Moreover, it has remained with me to date.

The course moves one to more concentration, focus, clarity, insight, patience and peace of mind, while reducing anxiety,depression, anger, fear, stress, chronic pain, and those bugger intrusive thoughts and feelings.

“The quality of bringing our attention into the present moment and keeping it and sustaining it in the present moment and not judging anything or fix anything, or force anything, or reject anything, that is what mindfulness is about.” Jon Kabat-Zinn

Doug Bremer, MD, director of mental health research for the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, recently completed a study using MBSR for veterans with PTSD. He had favorable results and says, ” we may have the ability to teach our returning soldiers the skill to control their reaction to those painful memories, without the use of medication, and before the stress from the memories causes further damage.”

My only observation here about Dr. Bremer’s statement is this; is not control and letting things flow, antithetical?  But then, that is why I took the course, to calm my over active analytical mind! The one that does not trust authority! Oh well, got some stuff to work on this summer.

MBSR Introduction and Information sessions start with a series of orientation classes on Thursdays 6-7:30pm at the Ada Pierce McCormick Building on the U of A campus at 1401 E. First Street (at Highland underpass.) Library of  the Little Chapel of All Nations. Orientations are May 13, 20 & 27. June 3rd.

The MBSR 8-week Program begins on Wednesdays 6-8:30pm. June 9,16,23 & 30. July 7,14, 21 &28. Registration is required.

Their is no charge for veterans, families of veterans, (the last class had two mothers of combat vets), and those who work with veterans. Registration fee for others is $250. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

For more information contact Teri Davis, ND^ Executive Director. “”  520-624-7183

Purple Mountain Institute is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit serving Pima County since 1999. EID, 31-1733820