Is it really like this?

#1
This from an American perspective but it struck a chord with me. Are things really like this?
The observant will have noticed that we hear little from the troops in Iraq and see almost nothing of the wounded. Why, one might wonder, does not CNN put an enlisted Marine before a camera and, for fifteen minutes without editing, let him say what he thinks? Is he not an adult and a citizen? Is he not engaged in important events on our behalf?

Sound political reasons exist. Soldiers are a risk PR-wise, the wounded a liability. No one can tell what they might say, and conspicuous dismemberment is bad for recruiting. An enlisted man in front of a camera is dangerous. He could wreck the governmental spin apparatus in five minutes. It is better to keep soldiers discreetly out of sight.

So we do not see much of the casualties, ours or theirs. Yet they are there, are somewhere, with missing legs, blind, becoming accustomed to groping at things in their new darkness, learning to use the wheelchairs that will be theirs for fifty years. Some face worse fates than others. Quadriplegics will be warehoused in VA hospitals where nurses will turn them at intervals, like hamburgers, to prevent bedsores. Friends and relatives will soon forget them. Suicide will be a frequent thought. The less damaged will get around.

For a brief moment perhaps the casualties will believe, then try desperately to keep believing, that they did something brave and worthy and terribly important for that abstraction, country. Some will even expect thanks. There will be no thanks, or few, and those quickly forgotten. It will be worse. People will ask how they lost the leg. In Iraq, they will say, hoping for sympathy, or respect, or understanding. The response, often unvoiced but unmistakable, will be, “What did you do that for?” The wounded will realize that they are not only crippled, but freaks.

The years will go by. Iraq will fade into the mist. Wars always do. A generation will rise for whom it will be just history. The dismembered veterans will find first that almost nobody appreciates what they did, then that few even remember it. If—when, many would say—the United States is driven out of Iraq, the soldiers will look back and realize that the whole affair was a fraud. Wars are just wars. They seem important at the time. At any rate, we are told that they are important.

Yet the wounds will remain. Arms do not grow back. For the paralyzed there will never be girlfriends, dancing, rolling in the grass with children. The blind will adapt as best they can. Those with merely a missing leg will count themselves lucky. They will hobble about, managing to lead semi-normal lives, and people will say, “How well he handles it.” An admirable freak. For others it will be less good. A colostomy bag is a sorry companion on a wedding night.
I hope this guy is wrong and we can do better for our guys.
 
#3
Think it's like that for most - until they need us to put fires out or burn their sheep or sandbag their houses to stop floods.

As the man said

"It's Tommy this, and Tommy that, and Tommy go away
but it's thank you Mr Atkins when the band begins to play"
 
#4
This is what turns my stomach:

June 4th, 2005
Advocates see veterans of war on terror joining the ranks of the homeless


By Leo Shane III / Stars and Stripes

WASHINGTON — Advocates for the homeless already are seeing veterans from the war on terror living on the street, and say the government must do more to ease their transition from military to civilian life.

Linda Boone, executive director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, said about 70 homeless veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan contacted her group’s facilities in 2004, and another 125 homeless veterans from those conflicts last year petitioned the Department of Veterans Affairs for assistance.

“It’s not a big wave, but it’s an indicator that we still haven’t done our job,” she said. “I think that our nation would be very embarrassed if they knew that.”

The group, founded in 1990, is a national network of charitable organizations designed to provide resources and aid for homeless veterans.

Veterans Affairs officials estimate that about 250,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and another 250,000 experience homelessness at some point.

Boone said the reasons behind the veterans’ housing problems are varied: Some have emotional and mental issues from their combat experience, some have trouble finding work after leaving the military, some have health care bills which result in financial distress.

George Basher, director of the New York State Department of Veterans Affairs, said he believes guardsmen and reservists are particularly at risk because they often bypass resources like the Transition Assistance Program when they return home.

“Those are the ones most likely to have private health insurance, so they’re likely to show up at an HMO looking for treatment and not a VA hospital,” he said. “There’s no central place for treatment.”

Still, Pete Dougherty, coordinator for the Veterans’ Affairs Department's homeless programs, said veterans today have more options — outpatient facilities, counselors, job training programs — than the troops returning from the Vietnam War.

“Most of the folks we’re seeing now are worried about losing their homes and think they won’t be able to afford to stay in them,” he said. “Before, the vets were out there but were unseen and unnoticed. Now we can reach out and make a difference sooner.”

But Boone added that most veterans don’t seek help for mental and emotional problems for years after their return from combat, meaning the problem of homelessness among war on terror veterans will likely grow.

“We’re still going to have homeless veterans because we haven’t tackled how to deal with the separation issue,” she said.

For more information on resources for homeless veterans, call (800) VET-HELP or visit www.nchv.org.
Glad to see the US government is keeping faith with those doing the dirty work.
 
#5
crabtastic: It's sad, but unfortunately true.

It's a classic NIMBY. We Americans think, "Sure, we want to honor our veterans....but it's not actually going to cost us any money, is it? Can't they get funding from — oh, I don't know, somewhere???"

There's a quote on this link from my home state that indicates 40% of the homeless population are veterans. I cannot tell for sure by context whether this is California (sounds right, actually — our homeless population is staggering) or nationwide, but I am searching for clarification.

http://www.cdva.ca.gov/homeless/ss-provider.asp
 
B

Biscuits_AB

Guest
#6
They had much the same problem after Vietnam. Unpopular wars and the self centered liberal attitudes of todays western societies lend nothing to the understanding of why a certain breed of men are prepared to do what soldiers do. The flag waving honeymoon is soon over and after it is, it's only those who serve and their families who care. There are the obvious physical scars and the not so obvious mental scars

The scene over America was much like that in the late 60s to the mid 70s with Vietnam veterans, hence films like 'The 4th of July'. At the end of WW2, there were similar problems with veterans. Great for the first few weeks of leave and then reality set in and jobs had to be found, but there weren't many many jobs to go around, so quite a few veterans found themselves on skid row and ended up being despised by influential parts of the population, driven by their own political desires and agendas. The 'Hells Angels' started roughly around that period and comprised mainly veterans from the Pacific, who were so disgruntled, they went right off the rails, which f&cked off many candidates for State Senator.

I would imagine that it's been the same worldwide for a few centuries now.

I don't think that the attitude of this country is any different. N Ireland didn't do much for our popularity.
 
#7
From an old 18th century Prussian soldier´s song (describing recruitment and treatment, this song was banned in the Prussian army):
Last verse:

Und werden wir dann alt, wo wenden wir uns hin?
die G'sundheit ist verloren, die Kräfte sind dahin!
und endlich wird es heißen: ein Vogel und kein Nest!
geh' Alter, nimm den Bettelsack, bist auch Soldat gewest!
geh' Alter, nimm den Bettelsack, bist auch Soldat gewest!

And when we get old, what are we going to do?
the health is gone, the strength as well!
And finally it will be: A bird without a nest!
Go, old git, take the begging bowl, you´ve been a soldier too!
Go, old git, take the begging bowl, you´ve been a soldier too!


Seems this is not a new problem.

Jan
 
#8
OldRedCap said:
Sound political reasons exist...........An enlisted man in front of a camera is dangerous. He could wreck the governmental spin apparatus in five minutes. It is better to keep soldiers discreetly out of sight.
I hope this guy is wrong and we can do better for our guys.[/quote]


reminds me of an incident a while ago, when the BW moved north to help the yanks and one of the jocks being interviewed on telly was asked 'how long do you think you'll be up there'

the thick jockinese reply along the lines of

'god knows, tony blair lies all the time'

priceless
 
#9
biscuits_ab:: As it stands today, I am positive that there is no big cabal of liberals that want to punish veterans. The full fruits of PTSD and neglect can be seen by anyone with a heart under any overpass, especially in my area. And Californians are by and large a compassionate lot (popular media images notwithstanding). It seems like lefties are more likely to push money in the direction of facilities and care for the homeless, regardless.

You're right, though. Humans love to wave flags and bang war-drums, yet recoil in horror at having to pay any taxes or take responsibility for the human toll. It's patriotism-as-fashion-trend.

I admit I don't know much about treatment of veterans in the UK, especially from NI. I always assumed it was better...which is a very low bar to jump. :roll:
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#10
OldRedCap said:
This from an American perspective but it struck a chord with me. Are things really like this?
The observant will have noticed that we hear little from the troops in Iraq and see almost nothing of the wounded. Why, one might wonder, does not CNN put an enlisted Marine before a camera and, for fifteen minutes without editing, let him say what he thinks? Is he not an adult and a citizen? Is he not engaged in important events on our behalf?

Sound political reasons exist. Soldiers are a risk PR-wise, the wounded a liability. No one can tell what they might say, and conspicuous dismemberment is bad for recruiting. An enlisted man in front of a camera is dangerous. He could wreck the governmental spin apparatus in five minutes. It is better to keep soldiers discreetly out of sight.

.
good post - I'd be interested to know what the source was and where the writer was coming from .

This thing about giving wounded personnel access to the media. In my experience, the Services here are quite protective of casualties, rather than deliberately trying to hide them away.

I cannot recall seeing a story following Op Telic casualties and how they are re-integrating.

I do know that there is no longer quite such a flat policy on automatic discharge for disabled soldiers, but it seems very mixed across the patch.

That said, in the headline driven world of reporting the bottom line is always: 'Where's the story here ? "

Guy survives IED, is hospitalized in UK, and returns to limited Med Cat service for remaining engagement .....

Sadly, it only becomes a story when

' GIRL survives contact on deployed ops , is hospitalized in UK, discharged from the Sevice and loses livelihood, takes to substance abuse as a way out, cannot sustain relationships and is found dead within a year of discharge '

Guess which story makes the headlines ?

Le Chevre
 
#11
Press reporting is always scewed. God forbid they report whats really going on, rather than what is a pice of scadal ensuwing tripe.

If they can get somebody to resign, then even better. God forbid theyreport a positive. Rather than"troops have odl/wrong kit" why not something more positive showing how troops cope even under logistical stress. When has the army every had the right kit for the job?

OS
 
#12
Goatman said:
good post - I'd be interested to know what the source was and where the writer was coming from .
Again, the writer is a guy called Fred Reed, as in the Why Cops Shoot thread.

He spent time in the US Marines in Vietnam, and subsequently as a fairly freelance journalist, by his own account. Currently a US expat living in Mexico.

smithie

edit for code
 
#13
"God and the soldier, all men adore
In times of trouble, and no more
When war is over, and all things righted,
God is forgotten, the old soldier - slighted."

Don't know who wrote this, but ain't it the truth.
 
#14
smithie said:
Goatman said:
good post - I'd be interested to know what the source was and where the writer was coming from .
Again, the writer is a guy called Fred Reed, as in the Why Cops Shoot thread.

He spent time in the US Marines in Vietnam, and subsequently as a fairly freelance journalist, by his own account. Currently a US expat living in Mexico.

smithie

edit for code
Have a look at his bio and read some of the articles. Even if 50% true, he knows of what he speaks.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#15
OldRedCap said:
smithie said:
Goatman said:
good post - I'd be interested to know what the source was and where the writer was coming from .
Again, the writer is a guy called Fred Reed, as in the Why Cops Shoot thread.

He spent time in the US Marines in Vietnam, and subsequently as a fairly freelance journalist, by his own account. Currently a US expat living in Mexico.

smithie

edit for code
Have a look at his bio and read some of the articles. Even if 50% true, he knows of what he speaks.
Thanks for the steer. I'd have laid money he was a Vietnam vet.....there is an underlying bitterness there......coming back home from a war that a host of Americans of every shade supported strongly right up till late 1967/early 68...and then nobody wanted to know about; an embarassment....imagine being the kind of gung-ho super patriot that flourishes in the Marine Corps and then having your country turn it's back on you in shame when you get back...effectively telling you that you were wounded and your friends died for NOTHING.....and watching the country you love turn into something you despise......hard thing.

Seems like a a good bloke to go for a few beers with and I wish him well in his twilight years down in Me'hico.....but I don't think he would put his hand on his heart and say he's given back more than he took out, would you ?

( fair point, not many people can)

I liked his piece in defence of rednecks though :lol: :)

Le Chevre
 
#16
Unfortunately, the current rule in journalism is "If it bleeds, it leads...".

The effect of Veterans fading from the limelight is nothing new. Legionaires had the same problem 2000 years ago. I can't speak for other Veterans, but I don't seek counsel or approval from people who write articles like that; my allegiance lies with my family and fellow Veterans.

I've come to believe that Kipling's "Barracks Room Ballads" is a documentary; certainly more accurate than some of the op-ed pieces written about Veterans these days.
 
#17

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#18
Hope the Mods won't mind but I thought it was worth printing out - good post H'way.

Bon soldat et bon camarade:

Amputee Wounded in Iraq to Return to Active Duty
by Joseph Shapiro


Morning Edition, March 4, 2005 · Capt. David Rozelle of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment will soon become the Army's first amputee from a wound suffered in Iraq to return to active duty.

In the past, it's been rare for soldiers who underwent amputations to go back to war, but better prosthetic arms and legs are now allowing wounded soldiers to do more.

At Fort Carson in Colorado, Rozelle said he knows he's returning both as a fighter and as a role model -- for the soldiers under his command and for other troops with amputations.

"I'm breaking the ice for them," Rozelle says. "I don't want to be an anomaly. I want to be the first to go back. But I don't want to be the last."

Rozelle was injured in June 2003, when an anti-tank mine destroyed part of his right foot and leg. He recounts the experience in a new memoir, Back in Action: An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith, and Fortitude. The book's first chapter is excerpted below.

Book Excerpt

Note: This excerpt contains language that some may find offensive.

Chapter 1: The Price of Freedom

It's not hard to get your mind focused for a mission when there's a price on your head. It was the day that would change my life forever, 21 June 2003, in Hit (pronounced "heat"), Iraq.

Just a few days before, my translator and I were smoking cigarettes and enjoying some hot tea, waiting with a few sheiks for our weekly situation meeting to begin. I was the de facto sheriff of Hit. As we waited for the rest of the sheiks to arrive, we would discuss the Iran-Iraq war. My translator had been a POW in the war, held for eleven years in an Iranian prison. He had been pressed into military service after his third year of medical school and served as an infantryman. As a POW, he found himself doing procedures in prison with no anesthesia, no sanitary rooms, and few medical instruments. His techniques kept fellow prisoners alive, but were often brutal and crippling.

After getting out of prison, he decided to never practice medicine again. He was a good man, and was proud to be of service to those who had freed him for the second time in his life. After taking a long drag on one of my Marlboros, he looked over at me and said in a low voice, "Captain, do not go on your mission tonight."

I was surprised. "I always lead my men," I responded. "It's still dangerous and I want to command on the ground."

He said, "Your men will be safe, but you will be attacked. If you go, it may be your last mission."

"What the hell are you talking about?" I said angrily. In a loud voice, so that the sheiks in the room could hear, I continued, "You're not trying to threaten me, are you? I will destroy any man who attacks me. Tell me who is saying these things—I'll arrest them today!"

He spoke to me carefully, in a low voice so that others couldn't hear, trying to calm me: "Captain, there are men in town who are planning missions in our mosques, under the command of clerics here and from Ar Ramadi. These men I do not know. But they are dangerous. Some are from Iran, and some are from Syria. It's rumored that they have offered $1,000 U.S. to any man who can kill you, the one who rides in the vehicle with the symbols K6 on the side . . . the one who always wears sunglasses. They recognize you as the leader, and as one who is successful and powerful. . . . Please do not go tonight."

I responded out loud, "You spread the word: I am powerful and I command many men. Out of respect for the people of Hit, I have yet to bring my tanks into this city and show you my full combat capabilities. Let the town know that the whereabouts of these terrorists must be reported in order to protect the innocent civilians of this city. I'm not afraid and I'm not threatened."

On our mission that night, we did arrest several suspicious people and killed two men who tried to attack our tanks with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). After such a wild night, we decided to stay out of the city for a few days. Unfortunately, we were giving the terrorists more time to prepare their next attack.

It was 1630 hours on the day of my final mission. I could tell when my men were ready because the sounds below changed from bolts charged and orders given during the final pre-combat inspection to laughter and tough talk. I never came down from my command post until I heard the distinctive sound of my high-mobility multi-wheeled vehicle (Humvee), distinctive because each Humvee has its own pitch or hum. Upon hearing that sound, I knew that my windshield and binocular lenses were clean, my maps updated with the most current intelligence, my radios checked, and my personal security detachment was loaded, with weapons pointed outward. With so many antennae and barrels protruding, we must have looked like some strange oversized desert insect. But before I walked down to conduct my final inspection, I continued my tradition of kissing the picture of my wife, Kim, listening to the message she had recorded in the frame, and saying a short prayer to God to take care of my unborn child if I did not return.

I was "Killer 6,"which is the code word for the leader of K Troop, 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. I commanded 139 men, nine M1A2 main battle tanks, 13 M3A2 Cavalry fighting vehicles, two tracked vehicles carrying 120 mm mortar guns, three support tracked vehicles, and five wheeled vehicles.

Before heading out on the mission, I would walk the line of soldiers to look at their faces. It wasn't just to make a final inspection. They needed to see me confident and unafraid of our impending mission. We treated every mission the same, whether we were conducting a traffic control point (TCP) or were capturing terrorists. My men had to be ready for anything.

A few weeks earlier, my boss had informed me that now that we had "stood up" an entirely new police force, we had to train them in police work. This tasking was a V Corps requirement. I was excited about it, tired of conducting patrols where I spent most of my time watching over my shoulder. Training leads to confidence and job comfort. We had done something historic. Within weeks of the end of major combat operations, we had rearmed Iraqi soldiers and were now patrolling the streets with them. They certainly needed training, and training was our task for the night.

We had scheduled the first night of training to start at 1700 hours, as it promised to be cooler than midday. The sun did not set until 2030 or 2100 hours, so we had plenty of time to train. We had planned on teaching for two hours, which we knew would turn into three or four. We always planned twice the amount of time to do anything with local forces.

It was about 1640 hours when we finally headed out the gate of our compound. I was traveling with two of my Humvees, my own and an improvised gun-truck, and two military police (MP) Humvees. As I crossed through the wire at the lead of the convoy, I called my departure report to Squadron Operations Center and told my detachment to lock and load their weapon systems.

On the squadron radio, I reported, "Thunder, this is Killer 6 . . . Killer is departing FOB Eden to Hit police academy, vicinity soccer stadium, with one officer and twenty-one enlisted."

Changing hand microphones, I immediately followed, "Killer, this is Killer 6, lock and load your weapon systems and follow my move."

After getting acknowledgments from the three vehicles following me, I charged my 9 mm Beretta, watching as the bullet slipped easily into the chamber. As was my custom, as a deterrent to possible wrongdoers, I had my pistol outside the window in my right hand, and my left inside on the Bible my father had given me just before deploying to Iraq. Inscribed on the inside cover were the words, "Use it as a tour guide," and in the back I had pasted a picture of my wife and me with my parents, taken just after our deployment ceremony.

It was only about five miles from our Forward Operating Base (FOB) to the town of Hit. Just before we reached the roundabout at the north end of the city, I told my driver to turn left down a dirt road we often used for observation by tanks at night.

I intended to avoid the roundabout in order to avoid detection from any spies at the first intersection. The dirt road took us from one paved road to another, and was only about two hundred meters in length. Just as we reached the far side, I noticed that the gradual terrace that normally allowed easy access to the road was now steeper and recently graded. Looking over the edge, I decided that the vehicles could handle the drop and we started to ease over the ledge.

As we began rolling again, everything exploded.

My right front tire, just under my feet, detonated an anti-tank mine. The mine violently lifted the Humvee off the ground and set it back on the three remaining of four wheels. The blast was so powerful that most of it went out and up from the front tire, launching a door and tire a hundred meters away. Blinded by smoke and dust, I wasn't sure exactly what had just happened, but I knew we were either under attack by RPGs or artillery, or had struck a mine -- and that I was injured.

I looked down and saw blood on my arms, and through my glasses I could see that my bulletproof vest seemed to have absorbed a lot of shrapnel. Everything was quiet. I could not speak. I was in terrible pain. I heard noises coming from my driver, screams of pain and fear. I was more confused than afraid.

Finally, I got my voice and asked, "Is everyone okay?"

My driver responded with more screams, and my translator simply gave me a crazy look.

We needed to get out of the Humvee. I began to pull at my left leg, but I couldn't get it free. My left foot was trapped under the firewall and heater. The right front portion of the vehicle's frame was now on the ground, so I set my right foot out into the sand to get some footing, in order to pull myself and my left leg free. But I couldn't get any footing.

I thought, "F--- . . . Oh, God, I am hurt . . . I have to get out of here . . . Why aren't they shooting at me? We're trapped in a stationary vehicle . . . They've got me . . . F---, that hurts . . . Move, David, move now!"

It felt as if I were setting my right foot into soft mud or a sponge. I looked down to see blood and bits of bone squeezing out of the side of my right boot. I gave one big push and turned to dive into the arms of two brave men who ran selflessly into the minefield to save me.

My good friend and fiercest warrior, Sergeant First Class John McNichols, grabbed me and said, "Don't worry, sir, I've got you."

All I could do was look at the ground. I tried to use my feet, but neither one would bear my weight. I could hear First Sergeant Cobal sighing under the burden of my weight.

I looked into his eyes and said, "I can't walk. I'm f---ed up."

Turning now to face Sergeant First Class McNichols, I said, "My feet are messed up."

Sergeant First Class McNichols smiled at me and said, "It's just a walk in the park, sir."

That was the last time I ever used my right foot.


Good luck feller.

Le Chevre
 
#20
I believe the Foreign Legion look after their injured/old and bold by having a place in the South of France where they tend the Legion vineyards [yes they do make their own wine :D ] It means they can get tanked up together and support each other and they have a strong ethos of looking after their vets if the vets need that support.
 

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