Wednesday, April 02, 2008

And now he smears children

Starting with war resisters, Cherise Ryan (World On the Web) zooms in on war resister Phil McDowell who is not in Candad and cites a Washington Post report on McDowell in explaining how he enlisted following 9/11, deployed to Iraq and made the grade of sergeant, discharged and returned to civilian life only to discover he was being stop-lossed and re-deployed to Iraq.  Instead, McDowell decided to seek refugee status in Canada, as many other war resisters have done.  Currently, McDowell is among many waiting to find out what the Candidan Parliament will decide this month.
A measure is before it that would grant safe harbor to war resisters.  Canada granted that to US war resisters during Vietnam.  There's a really bad editorial from a right-wing Canadian paper that keeps popping up everywhere and argues that back then Canada was taking in draft dodgers and there is no draft.  (What do you call stop-loss then?)  No, there's not a draft but a lot of bloated men who sat out Vietnam in the US via a variety of deferrments sure do love to lie and claim opposition to the illegal war then was all due 'to the draft, man.'  We've noted before the damage their lies (one took to inflating his 'service' and 'trauma' from enduring a physical -- he was never drafted, he had a college deferment among other things) do, their bragging, their boasting.  It damages the peace movement (provides a nice easy out to avoid working harder) and we've also noted how it continues to damage the cases war resisters are attempting to make in Canada.
So let's review it one more time.  During Vietnam, American males could go to Canada and seek asylum.  There were two categories "draft dodgers" -- which everyone seems to remember -- and "deserters."  A "draft doger" (also known as a "draft resister") was someone who had been called up.  A "deserter" was someone already in the service.  Canada's asylum then was not conditional upon someone being drafted.  Those who were in the military and elected to resist were waived on through the border and welcomed the same way.  There was no additional burden placed on them.  They were not required, for instance, to prove that, yes, they were in the service, but they had been drafted into it.  A male who chose to enlist and then began resisting after he was serving could go to Canada and be granted asylum.  Pot apparently smoked the brains of not only our left 'leaders' of that period -- a pot haze is the only thing to explain the repeating of the lies of the draft -- but the Canadian education system failed to educate their citizenry on recent history because an editorial board that wants to argue -- as one did last week and all the right-wing Canadian cites have re-posted it -- that Canada should say "no" to today's war resisters because there was a draft during Vietnam and Canada only took in "draft dodgers" is merely flaunting how ignorant everyone serving on the editorial board is.
Had Canada put in a place a qualifier that said, "We will take war resisters but only those who have seen duty in Vietnam," Canada still would have been swarmed with some of the same war resisters.  "Draft dodger" (or "draft resister") or "deserter," both cateogries were welcomed in Canada during Vietnam.  That is reality and I'm sorry that the Canadian education system is so poor today.  In terms of the US, honestly the same male 'leaders' of the left tripping out on tales of the draft today hurt the movement in many ways back then as well.  They'll probably continue to do so when they are in their graves.
Then US president Gerald Ford pardoned Tricky Dick of crimes against the US citizenry, crimes against the US government, crimes against humanity and a great deal more.  With the war resisters, he set conditions.  Apparently he didn't think Tricky Dick's fat ass could make it through an obstacle course so he just waived Nixon on through.  Ford granted war resisters an amnesty . . . . provided they went through a long process and met this criteria and that critieria and then, in the end, were judged to be worthy of the pardon.  Having just pardoned the War Criminal Nixon, it was outrageous.  Hearing an idiot, post-Ford's death, go on Democracy Now! and brag about Ford's program only explained to you just how much "establishment" is also in the left.  In Canada (and I was visiting Canada when that program was announced) there was huge outrage and outcry -- from Canadians as well as US war resisters.  Those who resisted the slaughter in Inochina were being asked to leep through hoop after hoop with no guarantee that if they made it through all the hoops they might be pardoned.  Much speculation at the time was that it was a trap/trick to get US war resisters back in the United States where they would be tossed in prison.  But Ford's program offered the obstacle course to both.
Jimmy Carter followed the Ford presidency.  Carter didn't offer anything to deserters.  Carter did offer draft resisters a limited asylum.In recent years, a number of war resisters from that era have been arrested while visiting the US.  So there's really no excuse for people who lived through that time period to not know the difference.  The only excuse is to provide cover for a peace movement that continues to struggle and to provide an excuse for your own inaction.  (And to brag about days forty years ago which, let's face it, is all some left 'leaders' have to offer today having willingly been co-opted long ago.)  Not grasping the difference, not speaking of that difference between reality then and 'reality' remembered now is hurting US war resisters and someone please throw a pie in the face of the next Baby Boom left male 'leader' who wants to gas bag about the hardships he endured due to the 'draft' that never found him called out because he knew how to game the system.  It's the equivalent of fishing tales only damaging and it needs to stop.  If you can't pie them, stop the males with, "When did you serve in Vietnam?"  And when they stutter that they didn't, ask them how they got it.  When they start to offer the tale of that 'invasive' physical, stop them and repeat, "I asked how you were able to avoid serving since you didn't go to Canada and you didn't go to Vietnam?"  If one claims "I went underground" ask him, "From the time you turned 18 until Vietnam was over?"  Because, no, the bulk of the 'leaders' jaw boning today did not go 'underground' and when a few did, it had nothing to do with the illegal war but everything to do with being kicked to the curb by the peace movement.  But that's the story they never want to tell.
Their efforts at boasting stroke their own egos but they do not help today's war resisters.  If you are interested in helping today's war resisters, you need to remember that the measure before the Canadian Parliament is supposed to be addressed early this month.  You can make your voice heard. Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( -- that's pm at who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( -- that's Dion.S at who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( -- that's Bevilacqua.M at who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum. 

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).  
"Post-traumatic stress disorder is among the most common diagnoses made by the Veterans Health Administration.  Of the approximately 300,000 veterans from Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom who have accessed VA health care, nearly 20 percent –60,000 veterans- have received a preliminary diagnosis of PTSD.  The VA also continues to treat veterans from Vietnam and other conflicts who have PTSD."  That was how US House Rep Michael H. Michaud today opened the Subcommittee on Health that he chairs.  The title of the hearing was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Treatment and Research: Moving Ahead Toward Recovery and there were five panels to the hearing.
The first panel revolved around the testimony of US Army Director, Divisions of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research's Col Charles W. Hoge.  That's the bulk of our focus because there were enough revelations and lies in that one panel to fill a book.
US House Rep John T. Salazar spoke of a veteran who had PTSD and was being denied benefits, explained that the veteran struggles to get the help promised and to navigate the VA system while working part-time at a Subway.  Hoge didn't seem overly concerned.  US House Rep Shelley Berkley spoke of speaking with a lifetime friend who was also a Vietnam veteran and shared with her that basically it was the exact same problems happening all over again.  Hoge didn't seem overly concernced.
What Hoge did seem concerned with was repeatedly intoning "New England Jounal of Medicine" and trying out catch phrases.  On the former, Hoge published.  We're not his parents, we honestly don't give a damn.  On the latter, considering all the questions he couldn't answer, a little less time attempting to manufacture sound bytes and a little more time spent doing the job that US tax payers pay him to do would be appreciated.
Hoge had a big problem and the implication was that the press was the problem.  Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) gets too much attention, he felt.  And even worse, he felt, there is mild TBI and no one wants to talk about that.  When you see a story, he insisted, reported, they always go with the most extreme cases of TBI.  What about mild TBI, Hoge wanted to know, what about mild TBI?
No doubt some people were grumbling, "Damn press."  But the reality is, the press didn't push TBI.  The Pentagon last year -- check any briefing -- repeatedly pushed TBI.  Over and over.  They are the ones, the generals they trotted out, who stated TBI was the signature wound of the Iraq War.  Few in the press have any medical background.  The easiest thing in the world is to toss out numbers and make assertions to them.  If Hoge feels TBI's gotten too much attention from the press, he doesn't need to blame the press, he needs to blame the Pentagon.  He was also blaming the press for the use of the term "TBI" and, no, the press did not invent the term. 
Mild TBI, he insisted, was nothing more than a concussion, nothing more, he appeared to think he was really cute here, than having your bell rung -- like a boxer!  But that damn press is going around chanting "TBI! TBI!"  Again, check the transcripts of any Pentagon press conference (via video link or with all participants present).  Who is introducing the term and topic each time, it's the Pentagon.  If Hoge wants to point a finger he needs to point it at his own branch of government and not at the press.  But he was more comfortable whining that, in the press, "it's often not made clear that the vast majority of those soldiers, service members, labeled as TBI injury have had concussions."  Again, take it up with your own branch of government and quit blaming the press.
He did acknowledge there were also categories of "moderate and severe traumatic brain injury" but he wasn't interested in addressing that.  He just wanted to repeatedly focus on mild TBI.  "A lot of concern lately," he grumbled, "about mild traumatic brain injury and potential longterm effects of mild traumatic brain injury," when all it is is a concussion with symptoms such as "headaches, irrtability . . . concentration problems."  He then wanted to state that mild TBI was most likely PTSD masking as mild TBI. 
Apparently there is some trouble telling the difference between the two. Golly, if only there was a way to screen for PTSD and TBI.  If only someone had worked on that . . . Oh, wait they have.  On the first day of Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldier Investigation a panel was held entitled The Crisis in Veterans' Healthcare.  Among those speaking were veteran Adrienne Kinne who spoke not just of being a member and discharging in 1998 and then re-enlisting after 9-11, but of her time as a civilian following her second discharge and specifically, from that time period, of being a research assistant at a VA where she helped on a group that devised a way to screen for PTSD and TBI in such a way that there would be no confusion in diagnosing.  Here's her testimony on what happened after they had study ready to be implemented.
Adrienne Kinne: And then they went to go to the next step, to actually make this happen. And I was actually on a conference call when someone said, "Wait a second. We can't start this screening process. Do you know that if we start screening for TBI there will be tens of thousands of soldiers who will screen positive and we do not have the resources available that would allow us to take care of these people so we cannot do the screening." And their rationale was that medically, medical ethics say if you know someone has a problem, you have to treat them. So since they didn't have the resources to treat them, they didn't want to know about the problem.
So Hoge, so important at Walter Reed, so informed, wanted to boo-hoo to Congress today that misdiagnosis is taking place but his branch of the government is the very branch that prevented the needed screening from taking place.  The denial took place because the military didn't want to responsible for the costs resulting from TBI being identified, as Kinne noted, identify an illness and you are ethically bound to treat it.  Last month, Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reported on this issue noting:

For more than two years, the Pentagon delayed screening troops returning from Iraq for mild brain injuries because officials feared veterans would blame vague ailments on the little-understood wound caused by exposure to bomb blasts, says the military's director of medical assessments.
Which would appear to be what Hoge was doing with his dismissive listing of symptoms such as "headaches."  Amazing that a doctor wouldn't cite the ringing in the ears and hearing loss, isn't it?  Zoroya noted, "In a January 2006 report, scientists at the federal Defense and Veteran Brain Injury Center urged that troops be screend for TBI 'immediately'."  January 2006.  It's 2008.  And Hoge wants to act like that never happened and thinks the problem is the press which, by his accounting, appears to have invented the term TBI and then alarmed the country falsely.

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1 comment:

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