Monday, May 26, 2008


Thousands of private counselors are offering free services to troops returning from war in Iraq and Afghanistan with mental health problems - jumping in to help a military that doesn't have enough therapists. "It's only an hour of your time," said Chirby, who counsels the family member of a someone deployed multiple tines. "How can you not give that to these men and women that ... are going oversees and fighting for us."

By PAULINE JELINEK, The Associated Press2008-05-25 13:56:06.0Current rank: # 278 of 7,755 WASHINGTON -

Thousands of private counselors are offering free services to troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with mental health problems, jumping in to help because the military is short on therapists.

On this Memorial Day, America's armed forces and its veterans are coping with depression, suicide, family, marital and job problems on a scale not seen since Vietnam. The government has been in beg-borrow-and-steal mode, trying to hire psychiatrists and other professionals, recruit them with incentives or borrow them from other agencies.

Among those volunteering an hour a week to help is Brenna Chirby, a psychologist with a private practice in McLean, Va.

"It's only an hour of your time," said Chirby, who counsels a family member of a man deployed multiple times. "How can you not give that to these men and women that ... are going oversees and fighting for us?"

There are only 1,431 mental health professionals among the nation's 1.4 million active-duty military personnel, said Terry Jones, a Pentagon spokesman on health issues.

About 20,000 more full- and part-time professionals provide health care services for the Veterans Administration and the Pentagon. They include psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers and substance abuse counselors.

According to veterans groups and health care experts, that is not enough for a mental health crisis emerging among troops and their families.

"Honestly, much is being done by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs," said retired Army Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist. "But the need to help these men and women goes far beyond whatever any government agency can do."

About 300,000 of those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to have anxiety or post-traumatic stress, a recent private study said. Add in spouses left home to manage families and households without their partner as well as children deprived of parents during long or repeated tours of duty, and the number with problems balloons to 1 million, Xenakis said.
The VA says it has seen 120,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have symptoms of mental health problems, half with post-traumatic stress disorder. Although rates are high from those two wars, most of the 400,000 patients seen in VA last year for PTSD were Vietnam-era veterans, officials said.

Civilian groups are trying to step in for troops from the current conflicts.

"There are over 400,000 mental health professionals in our great country," said Barbara V. Romberg, a clinical psychologist who practices in Washington. "Clearly, we have the resources to meet this challenge."

Romberg founded Give An Hour, a group of 1,200 mental health professionals donating one hour of free care a week to troops, veterans or family members. They have to commit to doing it for a year.

Romberg, in cooperation with the American Psychiatric Foundation, hopes to find 40,000 volunteers over the next three years, or about 10 percent of available civilian professionals. The effort to get the word out to those who need the help and to recruit and train volunteers is being backed by a $1 million grant from the Lilly Foundation.

Romberg's group is the largest of a number across the nation.

Click on this link to read full story


Surely nothing that President Bush has done in his two wretched terms of office—not the invasion and destruction of Iraq, not the overturning of the five-centuries-old tradition of habeas corpus, not his authorization and encouragement of torture, not his campaign of domestic spying—nothing, can compare in its ugliness as his approval, as commander in chief, of the imprisoning of over 2500 children.

Bush's War on Children in Iraq
DAVE LINDORFF CounterpunchMonday, May 26, 2008

According to the US government’s own figures, that is how many kids 17 years and younger have been held since 2001 as “enemy combatants”—often for over a year, and sometimes for over five years. At least eight of those children, some reportedly as young as 10, were held at Guantanamo. They even had a special camp for them there: Camp Iguana. One of those kids committed suicide at the age of 21, after spending five years in confinement at Guantanamo. (Ironically and tragically, that particular victim of the president’s criminal policy, had been determined by the Pentagon to have been innocent only two weeks before he took his own life, but nobody bothered to tell him he was slated for release and a return home to Afghanistan.)

I say Bush’s behavior is criminal because since 1949, under the Geneva Conventions signed and adopted by the US, and incorporated into US law under the Constitution’s supremacy clause, children under the age of 15 are classed as “protected persons,” and even if captured while fighting against US forces are to be considered victims, not POWs. In 2002, the Bush administration signed an updated version of that treaty, raising the “protected person” age to all those “under 18.”

Click on link to read full story


On Memorial Day weekend, Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and VA Secretary James Peake stood side-by-side in Fairbanks, Alaska to showcase their opposition to--and lack of respect for--today's newest veterans.


Speaking at the Disabled American Veterans' 19th Annual Department Convention, Senator Stevens told the majority of America's most recent war veterans that they had not yet sacrificed enough to have earned a GI Bill that would cover the full cost of their educations.

Sen. Ted Stevens warned of a "mass exodus" from the military Saturday if the so-called 21st Century GI Bill goes into law without major changes. :: "There are worries that people who are already in for two years will serve one more and leave, and there's really no incentive to stay," Stevens said.

What Stevens is really saying is that today's troops are unpatriotic--that they're only in it for the money and the college. And while Stevens' "mass exodus" theory has been thoroughly discredited by the Congressional Budget Office, the true irony of the situation lies in the fact that Stevens earned his own college degree after World War Two by using the same GI Bill he's aiming to prevent today's veterans from receiving.

In today's military lingo, this makes Senator Stevens a "Blue Falcon" or a "Bravo Foxtrot."
At the same convention, VA Secretary James Peake--who is already under fire for the cover-up of an extraordinary number of veteran suicides and for overseeing an organization that may not be taking PTSD seriously--showed a stunning lack of situational awareness by discounting recent media reports and think tank studies by suggesting that fewer returning vets actually had PTSD than is commonly thought.

On the topic of PTSD, Peake questioned if the condition is being overdiagnosed, considering the mental health services available to those in the armed forces.

"I worry about labeling all these kids coming back," he said. "Just because someone might need a little counseling when they get back, doesn't mean they need the PTSD label their whole lives."
The only reason Peake worries about "labeling all these kids" is because he understands neither the cause of combat PTSD nor how it should be treated. If Peake viewed PTSD as a combat injury sustained in theater--as the troops and the psychiatrists do--then he wouldn't worry about the "stigma." As it stands now, Peake is apparently content to perpetuate the myth of the "crazy, unstable vet guy." In fact, what Peake--a former contractor--is saying directly contradicts the message of VA psychiatrists like Jonathan Shay:

The American Psychiatric Association has saddled us with the jargon "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder" (PTSD)--which sounds like an ailment--even though it is evident from the definition that what we are dealing with is an injury. . .We do not refer to a veteran who has had an arm blown off by a grenade as suffering from "Missing Army Disorder." [. . .] Combat PTSD is a war injury. Veterans with combat PTSD are war wounded, carrying the burdens of sacrifice for the rest of us as surely as the amputees, the burned, the blind, and the paralyzed carry them.
To say the least, it's alarming that the VA Secretary doesn't get this.

Unfortunately, this double-barreled blast of disrespect for the service of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans on Memorial Day weekend from a Republican Senator and a Bush appointee is not unexpected.

We're used to it.

However, it should provide all of us with an extra jolt of motivation to rid our nation of those who hold today's troops in such contempt.


The mainstream media continues to downplay events in Iraq, and when they do report on Iraq it is some childish report like I saw this morning on FOX NEWS where a GI had taken pictures from his vehicle of Iraqi children standing by the side of the road. What that was supposed to represent I have no idea, but I'll bet the parents of the children were inside the houses loading up their AK47s and getting ready to strike the US patrol when it comes back down the same street. How can FOX NEWS continue to peddle this garbage is beyond me, but I think it is because they assume most of the people watching FOX NEWS were never in the service and don't know any better. FOX NEWS is right on that score. The FOX NEWS viewers are "laptop warriors" who never spent one day in the military so they are easily swayed by a story showing a GI taking pictures of Iraqi kids from a military vehicle as they roll down a street in Baghdad and they actually think this means things are getting better in iraq.

It is just not so, and to prove our point we have listed a series of events that have taken place in Iraq and Afghanistan on Memorial Day. You'll never see any of this reported on FOX NEWS.

Editorial Comment: By Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE, a former Army Combat Engineer veteran.

War News for Monday, May 26, 2008 (Click on each story in BLUE for further details)

Photo: A U.S. armoured vehicle burns at Al Canal street, near Sadr city, Baghdad, Iraq, after a roadside bomb exploded next to a U.S. military convoy, Monday, May 26, 2008, police said. There was no immediate U.S. Army confirmation regarding the blast.(AP Photo/Mahmoud al-Badri)
See photo here:

MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Coalition force Soldier in a roadside bombing in Salah ad-Din Province on Monday, May 26th. Two other soldier were wounded in the attack.NATO is reporting the death of a ISAF soldier in an explosion in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, May 25th. Two other soldiers were wounded in the attack. The British MoD is confirming the death of a British soldier two kilometres north of Sangin, Kandahar Province.The AFP is reporting the death of a U.S. coalition soldier CJTF-101 in Afghanistan on Sunday, May 25th. No other details were released.
The AP reports the attack was in Farah province.The DoD is reporting a new death of a soldier from a hit-and-run driver while on leave from the Iraq theater of operations.

Pfc. Howard A. Jones, Jr. died in Chicago, Ill. on Sunday, May 18th.

The AFP is reporting the death of a soldier in a roadside bomb attack in Najaf, An Najaf Province on Sunday, May 25th. Two other soldiers were wounded in the attack. Reuters reports the attack was in Ash-Shamiyah district in Qadisiyah province.

Baghdad:#1: Another roadside bomb exploded near an Iraqi army checkpoint on the road that leads to the Baghdad International Airport, wounding five people, including one Iraqi soldier and four civilians, police said. The blast sent up a huge plume of black smoke and caused vendors at nearby kiosks selling soft drinks to run for cover.

#2: The U.S. military said Sunday that the number of attacks by militants in the last week dropped to a level not seen in Iraq since March 2004. About 300 violent incidents were recorded in the seven-day period that ended Friday, down from a weekly high of nearly 1,600 in mid-June, according to a chart provided by the military.

#3: Rising prices of food, energy and other commodities worldwide pushed up Iraq's inflation rate to 16 per cent last month, compared to 11 per cent at the beginning of this year, the country's central bank said.

#4: A roadside bomb detonated in a parking lot near a police station in Baghdad's northern neighborhood of Sha'ab, wounding nine people, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. The blast destroyed a minibus and caused damages to several nearby civilian cars, the source said.

#5: A third roadside bomb struck a U.S. patrol in the al-Qanat Street near Baghdad's eastern neighborhood of Sadr City, leaving a Humvee on fire, he said. The source could not say whether the U.S. soldiers sustained casualties as the troops immediately cordoned off the area. The U.S. military did not confirm the incident yet.

#6: The Iraqi government has replaced some of the top officials in state-owned oil companies in southern Iraq, tightening its grip on an industry that fuels the economy but has been outside of its direct control. The shake-up, which has largely escaped public notice, affects industries in the southern oil hub of Basra. The Baghdad government has removed the heads of the South Oil Company, which is in charge of exports, the South Gas Company and the Iraqi Oil Tankers Company since mid-May, local officials and the Oil Ministry told Reuters.

Diyala Prv:#1: Suspected al-Qaida fighters also kidnapped Sheik Saleh al-Karkhi and his brother after blowing up his house in the village of Busaleh in the volatile Diyala province north of the capital, a police official said, declining to be identified because he wasn't supposed to release the information. The official, who read the report at the provincial military operations command center in Baqouba, said al-Karkhi was probably abducted because he had set up two awakening councils in the area and "took it upon himself to fight al-Qaida."

#2: Four shepherds disappeared along with their livestock on Monday in the desert areas in southwest Baaquba, an official security source said. "Four herdsmen disappeared today in the desert area in Baladruz, southwest of Baaquba," the source, who requested anonymity, told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq. "Their families informed security authorities of their disappearance along with scores of livestock," he added.

Najaf:#1: A roadside bomb exploded in the al Shamiyah area south of Najaf at around 9 p.m. on Sunday. A source from the Iraqi army has told us that an American humvee was destroyed, a soldier was killed and two others were injured. US military said in an emailed reply that they confirm the new of the death of a coalition soldier.

Taza:#1: An ambulance driver and a policeman were wounded on Sunday when a roadside bomb exploded near an ambulance close to the town of Taza, 220 km (130 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.A driver of an ambulance and a civilian were injured when a roadside bomb exploded in Tuz Khurmatu town south of Kirkuk on Monday morning.

Tuz Khurmato:#1: A source in the Kurdish security forces (Asayish) said that a bomb exploded near the house of a Turkmen teacher in al Askari neighborhood in downtown Tuz Khurmatu south of Kirkuk city on Monday morning.

Tarmiya:#1: A suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed at least six members of a U.S.-backed neighborhood patrol and wounded 18 others on Monday, police said. The attack took place at a checkpoint in Tarmiya, a town just north of Baghdad.Those killed included a policeman, two awakening council guards and a civilian, according to the police. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information.Mosul:#1: A grenade tossed at a police patrol wounded eight people, including one policeman, in central Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

Afghanistan:#1: In another incident Monday, two Afghan policemen were killed when Taliban militants ambushed their patrol with rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire in the central province of Ghazni, a district official said.

#2: Two Afghan security guards working for a US-owned security firm were wounded in a similar ambush in the same province on Sunday, deputy provincial police chief Mohammad Zaman said.

#3: Also Sunday, an Afghan security guard working for the same company, called USPI, was killed in an ambush in neighbouring Wardak province, a police commander said, also blaming the Taliban.

#4: United States drones have violated Pakistani airspace five times in North Waziristan. According to the Daily Times, unmanned US drones and fighter jets are spreading fear among residents. The US spy planes had been continuously violating the Pakistani airspace for the last four days. In Afghanistan, the fighter and unmanned planes of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces violated Pakistan’s airspace and intruded several kilometres inside North Waziristan tribal region on Sunday.

#5: Four Shiite Muslims were gunned down in a suspected sectarian attack in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province on Monday, police said. The victims, all belonging to the same family, were traveling in a motor rickshaw when the assailants intercepted them on the outskirts of Dera Ismail Khan town, area police chief Salahuddin Khan Kundi said. A policeman was also shot dead when he challenged the attackers as they fled the scene, according to Kundi.

.Casualty Reports:Joseph Townsend, 22, lost both legs in a mine blast in Afghanistan earlier this year.

British.Pvt. Nathon Bagwell is now recovering from a gunshot wound he received in an April 27 attack on his platoon in Sadr City at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta. While he receives treatment for the damage done to his spine, has undergone numerous surgeries to repair the damage done when an enemy’s bullet pierced the left side of his stomach, damaged his intestines and his left kidney and shattered a vertebra in his lower spine. When he regains his strength, Bagwell will face another, 10-hour surgery that will reconnect his bladder and his left kidney, but his mother said that surgery will have to wait for another two to three months.

Private Liam Haven suffered wounds to his arm, neck and face when his Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicle was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, 17 May 2008. The 19 year old is assessed as being in a stable condition. The nature of his wounds remains medical-in-confidence. Australian

Additional editorial comment: And even after all of this, the mainstream media continues to say Iraq and Afghanistan are without any violence. How long will the mainstream media continue to LIE to the American public? We expect it from FOX NEWS because they are the mouthpiece of the Bush administration, but there is no legitimate reason the rest of the mainstream media ignores the TRUTH about Iraq and Afghanistan.


THIS Memorial Day, as an ever-increasing number of mentally and physically wounded soldiers return from Iraq, the Department of Veterans Affairs faces a pressing crisis: women traumatized not only by combat but also by sexual assault and harassment from their fellow service members. Sadly, the department is failing to fully deal with this problem.


Women make up some 15 percent of the United States active duty forces, and 11 percent of the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly a third of female veterans say they were sexually assaulted or raped while in the military, and 71 percent to 90 percent say they were sexually harassed by the men with whom they served.

This sort of abuse drastically increases the risk and intensity of post-traumatic stress disorder. One study found that female soldiers who were sexually assaulted were nine times more likely to show symptoms of this disorder than those who weren’t.

Sexual harassment by itself is so destructive, another study revealed, it causes the same rates of post-traumatic stress in women as combat does in men. And rape can lead to other medical crises, including diabetes, asthma, chronic pelvic pain, eating disorders, miscarriages and hypertension.

The threat of post-traumatic stress has risen in recent years as women’s roles in war have changed. More of them now come under fire, suffer battle wounds and kill the enemy, just as men do.

As women return for repeat tours, usually redeploying with their same units, many must go back to war with the same man (or men) who abused them. This leaves these women as threatened by their own comrades as by the war itself. Yet the combination of sexual assault and combat has barely been acknowledged or studied.

Last month, when the RAND Corporation released the biggest non-military survey of the mental health of troops since 2001, it unwittingly reflected this lack of research. The survey found that women suffer from higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression than men do, but it neglected to look into why this might be, and asked no questions about abuse from fellow soldiers. Terri Tanielian, the project’s co-editor, told me that RAND needs more money to explore these higher rates of trauma among women.

As the more than 191,500 women who have served in the Middle East since 2001 return home, they will increasingly flood the Veterans Affairs system. To ask those who need help for post-traumatic stress disorder to turn to a typical Veterans Affairs hospital, built in the 1950s and designed to treat men, is untenable. Women who have been raped or sexually assaulted often cannot face therapy groups or medical facilities full of men.

At the moment, the Department of Veterans Affairs operates only six inpatient post-traumatic stress disorder programs specifically for women. And although all 153 department-run hospitals will treat women, only 22 have stand-alone women’s clinics that offer a full range of medical and psychological services.

This number of clinics may seem adequate for the 1.7 million female veterans currently at home, especially since they represent only 7.2 percent of all veterans at the moment, but it isn’t. Many clinics are miles from where soldiers live, and many more are open only a few hours a week and lack staff members trained to deal with sexual assault, let alone assault combined with combat trauma.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it plans to open more clinics for post-traumatic stress disorder, but how many will be only for women remains undecided.
Women are the fastest-growing group of veterans, and by 2020 they are projected to account for 20 percent of all veterans under the age of 45. Not all of these women will have suffered sexual assault, but many will have medical or psychological needs that conventional department hospitals cannot meet.

The Department of Veterans Affairs must open more comprehensive women’s health clinics, designate more facilities for women who have endured both combat and military sexual trauma and finance more support groups specifically for female combat veterans. The best way to honor all of our soldiers is to do what we can to help them mend.

Helen Benedict, a professor of journalism at Columbia, is the author of the novel “The Opposite of Love” and the forthcoming “The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq.”


WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has written an unusual open letter to all those in uniform, warning them to stay out of politics as the nation approaches a presidential election in which the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be a central, and certainly divisive, issue.


“The U.S. military must remain apolitical at all times and in all ways,” wrote the chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, the nation’s highest-ranking officer. “It is and must always be a neutral instrument of the state, no matter which party holds sway.”

Admiral Mullen’s essay appears in the coming issue of Joint Force Quarterly, an official military journal that is distributed widely among the officer corps.

The essay is the first Admiral Mullen has written for the journal as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and veteran officers said they could not remember when a similar “all-hands” letter had been issued to remind military personnel to remain outside, if not above, contentious political debate.

The essay can be seen as a reflection of the deep concern among senior officers that the military, which is paying the highest price in carrying out national security policy, may be drawn into politicking this year.

The war in Iraq has already exceeded the length of World War II and is the nation’s longest conflict fought with an all-volunteer military since the Revolutionary War.

(Editorial comment: This last paragraph sums up the problem in the United States. Only a handful of people have a vested interest in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and you can lay the blame squarely on the doorstep of the fact we don't have a military draft. If we had a military draft, you would see the media and the people of the United States a lot more interested in this war---Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE)


There is one group of veterans that isn’t allowed to march in the national memorial parade in Washington on Monday.

That’s the Veterans for Peace, Delwin Anderson Memorial chapter, based in D.C.

It’s named after a World War II vet who fought in Italy and then worked for the VA for many years designing programs for injured veterans.

The group had applied to join the National Memorial Day parade. And initially, anyway, it was accepted.

But then, late last month, the group was told that it didn’t meet the criteria to participate.The American Veterans Center, which runs the parade, told them “we cannot have elements in the parade that have any type of political message or wish to promote a point of view.”But other groups, like the American Legion, will be participating in theparade.

Its creed is to defend “God and country” and to “foster and perpetuate a100 percent Americanism.”And check out the list of major sponsors for the parade. They include:Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, the nation of Kuwait, the U.S. Army, and even the NRA.“We’re striving to keep political statements out of the parade,” says Jordan Cross, communications director of the American Veterans Center.“

Last year, we had two groups who supported the war, and we turned them down.”Cross says that when the American Veterans Center looked more closely at the Vets for Peace application and “saw what they were requesting, to carry a coffin in the parade, and all that jazz,” it decided not to let them participate.Michael Marceau, a wounded Vietnam vet, serves as vice president of theD.C. Vets for Peace group.

“We’re puzzled,” he said, adding that he felt“ very disrespected.”Caroline Anderson, the widow of Delwin Anderson, was supposed to ride inthe parade in a convertible. Bashful, she doesn’t want to talk about herself or on behalf of the Vets for Peace chapter. But she is not happy about the expulsion. “It’s a great disappointment,” she says, “to fee lthat other veterans would not allow them to be with them and march, just because they’re for peace.”


Anyone who has been following this blog knows I have been blasting the mainstream media for months for the lack of coverage of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The wars have literally dropped off the radar screen.

On Sunday, May 25, CBS war correspondent Kimberly Dozier, who was severely wounded in Iraq when a roadside bomb blew up the Humvee she was riding in killing her driver and two CBS News cameramen, went for a jog with CNN's Howard Kurtz, host of "Reliable Sources."

What came out of the interview was fascinating and informative. Dozier said the war has dropped off the news radar screen because when she would approach news executives with another story showing our brave young soldiers in combat in Iraq their eyes would glaze over.

The feeling Dozier expressed is the feeling Bill O'Reilly of Fox News once expressed when he said: "Once you've seen one roadside bombing or an IED going off it no longer becomes news. It is all so repetitive."

Here in part is the transcript from the Howard Kurtz interview with Kimberly Dozier: